Form and function

Universal Fruit called on Centrereed to enliven its invoices – and an award followed. Fay Sweet reports

SBHD: Universal Fruit called on Centrereed to enliven its invoices – and an award followed. Fay Sweet reports

Long considered the Cinderella of the corporate identity portfolio, the humble business form is rarely lavished with attention. But its potential as an effective part of a company’s communication message is tackled with relish by specialist continuous business forms printer and graphics design team Centrereed.

And the company’s work for Universal Fruit recently scooped first prize in the paper industry’s Paper Focus awards scheme, when it was bestowed the Stora Feldmuhle Giroform Award for Multipart Business Forms, Carbonless.

Judges singled out the project because of its “imaginative use of materials and colours” and because “the design concept disguised the usually austere invoicing process which forms part of a company’s administration system”.

“We were given a fairly open brief from the client,” explains project co-ordinator Richard Harris. “Essentially, the priority was for a distinctive and easily read form that also made it clear that the client operated in the fruit business. We produced a design with restrained use of typography, but that also featured lots of colour. To add interest to the order panel, simple illustrations of fruits were included. Always bearing in mind that the form must carry additional information printed by the client, we took pains to avoid the trap of cluttering the sheet and printed screened illustrations to ensure that the client’s printed order details could clearly be seen over the top of the fruit images.”

Harris points out that designers unfamiliar with the forms presses occasionally overlook their capabilities and limitations. “It is always useful, for example, to remember that most presses will need a 1/6in plate gap at the head of the form. This is because when the plate is fixed round the drum there is usually a small space left between the top and bottom of the plate. It is also essential to take account of the cylinder sizes as this results in three standard form depth sizes: 11in, 11 2/3in (A4) and 12in. The Universal Fruit invoice measures 11in x 9in. Width, within reason, is not a problem. Finally, because the continuous process originated in the US, it is important to remember that dimensions are given in Imperial measures.”

Harris adds that the presses used for most continuous stationery are not the full-colour type and therefore they are designed to print line colours chosen from the Pantone palette. In the case of the Universal Fruit job, colours selected were a Blue 280, a PMS Yellow, Red 485 and Green 348. Graduated colours and a moir effect were achieved through the use of screens.

Paper specified was from the Idem carbonless range. The white top sheet is a coated back 80gsm, the pink middle sheet is a coated front and back 53gsm, and the bottom green sheet is a coated front 57gsm. The coating detail refers to the area covered with carbon capsules designed to break when subjected to pressure and pass the impression made on the top sheet down through the entire document set.

“We have frequently specified Idem because it has excellent runability and consistency,” says Harris. “With some of the cheaper brands there are problems ensuring that the top image is passed through to the bottom of a five- or six-part set. These brands also present occasional problems running at high speed through the presses – a break in the paper can be troublesome and costly because it means the machine must be stopped, cleared and restarted.”

Each invoice reel was printed separately at the Centrereed plant in Rotherham on a Timson T24 press at a speed of 400ft a minute. On the same press it was punched with the edge holes and folded. The batch was then sent to the London branch for finishing. The top white sheet was printed on the reverse with the company’s terms and conditions details, and was then passed on for collating and packaging. m

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