Crash printing

Crash Printing
A printing process, such as letterpress, using hard type and heavy impressioning to create an image on the top sheet of a multiple part form, which will transfer through to the other parts. Part 1 is printed with ink and the image on the other parts is transferred by the use of carbon between each part or carbonless paper.

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I did a great deal of this as a youngster in my dad’s shop back in the 1970s/80s. Back then, many businesses were still using multi-part forms, especially for billing.

We crash printed occasionally on forms with carbon paper inserted between the offset printed sheets, but we usually “crashed” onto NCR sets of paper. (NCR stands for National Cash Register, not “no carbon required.”) Usually we just consecutive numbered the forms, but sometimes we would repair the work an offset printer had done by striking through something or adding the text.

My dad usually printed the NCR forms on a Multilith and would then pad them with a special glue that would allow you to fan apart the forms into the appropriate 2-, 3-, or 4-part forms. I did not especially like these jobs, as runs were usually long (10K or more impressions) and we used a hand-fed, but motorized Chandler & Price. I would love to have a few of those jobs now to fuel my new letterpress hobby!

Impressioning? Is that like letterpressing?

No such word as letterpressing Steve, it is letterpress printing.

Never heard of crash printing on NCR before, I always printed the sheets separately as there would be a different forme for each page. Always had to remember if you were printing on top sheet, middle sheet or bottom sheet type NCR.
If I remember rightly it had a tendency to curl.

He was jesting, see first post. The carbonless paper manufacturers sell it as single sheets, forward (for crash printing/#ing) or reverse sets for printing on each sheet separately. Stuart

Yes, of course I was just jesting.
Some will also remember that you needed to you straight sets if you were printing on a Davidson press where it actually flipped the sheets into the delivery, so they stayed in proper sequence. But you might also start w/ straight sequence if you were printing multiple colors on a single color press. A situation where you would have to run the sheets through the press multiple times.

Keeping in mind crash printing only worked after you glued the sets using fan-a-part glue and separated the sets. Typically done for numbering.

Now let’s talk about smash letterpressing! ;)

Jim DiRisio:
Too much Wikipedia can be hazardous to your well-being. For the real story of National Cash Register Co. AND
No Carbon Required Paper
Please see:

Or ask one of the old timers who was there then.

NCR devised and brought to market NCR.
Fan apart glue came later. Sets were padded on a stub with 1/4 or 12 per inch teeth on a tipping machine which applied dabs of glue on this stub.

Thank you.

My dad was an old timer who was around then. He began printing at the age of 13 in 1938 and printed until he was well into his seventies. He operated his own job shop (Norlu Press in Fairport, NY) and worked as a pressman, then as a typographer for his day job. The Ludlow was his passion. There are so many things I wish I could ask him, but he passed away in 2007. He told me the story about “NCR,” and I believed every word he said. We didn’t have Wikipedia back then!

To the rescue, the Inland Printer was read by most, but apparently not all printers in the 1950s. This NCR ad plainly shows how NCR used its corporate initials to promote No Carbon Required paper, Wikipedia’s mis-information to the contrary:


Fritz: “Thanks!”
Jim: :”And now you know the rest of the story!”

Crash printing is done using Ludlow or Linotype slugs instead of foundry type. The more you use foundry type for crash printing the more the letters before dull or round looking.

The cost of foundry type is high, if you are going to replace it every time you print a job.

I worked in pre-press for two different forms printing companies in the 1980s. At the second one, part of my job was to make photopolymer plates for crash printing on carbonless paper.