Proposed Rules for USPS Folded Self Mailers
The United States Postal Service® (USPS®) published proposed revisions to the regulations for folder self mailers (FSM's) and other unenveloped pieces in the August 15, 2011 Federal Register. The USPS has in the past published a number of proposals for revision to the rules for these types of mailpieces. These proposals have been based on a series of tests, conducted with the collaboration of the mailing industry, to help identify the characteristics of FSM's that are successfully sorted on automated letter processing equipment. The proposed rules are intended to be a balance of processing efficiency and creativity.
The results of the testing identified four mailpiece characteristics that proved to be most important for machineability: dimensions, basis weight of the paper that forms the outer sheet, closure method, and closure placement. Large dimension pieces, as well as pieces with lower paper basis weight caused lower throughput, increased equipment jams and higher levels of mailpiece damage. The continuous glue line method of closure is by far the most optimal for machineability. However, due to its limited use in the mailing industry, the USPS has proposed a number of other acceptable methods of closure that closely simulate a continuous glue line. It was also determined that single tabs or seals are not a sufficient method of closure. Other factors that also affected automation compatibility included things such as mailpiece thickness, total weight, fold orientation, thickness of attachments or enclosures within a mailpiece, the flap size, style and orientation, and the number of panels. Based on this data, the USPS has published a Folded Self-Mailer Reference Material document, which includes descriptions and illustrations of the recommended attributes.
The notice lays out the specifications for the size requirements for FSM's:
- Length: A minimum of 5 inches and a maximum of 10 1/2 inches.
- Height: A minimum of 3 1/2 inches and a maximum of 6 inches.
- Thickness: A minimum of 0.007 inch; (0.009 inch if the height exceeds 4 1/4 inches or if the length exceeds 6 inches); the maximum thickness is 1/4 inch.
- Maximum Weight: 3 ounces.
- Rectangular, with four square corners and parallel opposite sides.
- Within an aspect ratio (length divided by height) of 1.3 to 2.5, inclusive (see Domestic Mail Manual 601.1.4).
- Maximum number of panels, bi-fold, tri-fold and oblongs: 8
- Exception: Quarter folded self-mailers made of a minimum of 100 lb book grade paper may have 4 panels and those made of 55 lb newsprint must have at least 8 panels and may contain up to 16 panels.
The proposals include the definition of a "panel" and lengthy descriptions of permissible fold and panel configurations.
The sealing options provided are numerous, including the optimal continuous glue line as well as three or four glue spots, three or four elongated glue lines, and various tabbing options. Many of the options are dependent on the paper basis weight and number of folds or panels. There are also a number of options for other design elements, such as die cuts, perforations, loose enclosures and attachments.
Review and Comment
Although the USPS is free to implement these changes without further comment from the mailing industry; they do encourage interested parties to review the proposals and submit comments. Comments are due on or before September 14, 2011. Written comments may be sent to the manager, Product Classification, U.S. Postal Service, 475 L'Enfant Plaza, SW., Room 4446, Washington, DC 20260-5015. Email comments that contain the name and address of the commenter, may be sent to: email@example.com, with a subject line of "FSM.'"
For more detailed information on these proposed rules, click on the links above for the Federal Register notice or the Folded Self-Mailer Reference Material document, the Folded Self-Mailer landing page on the RIBBS web site, or you may contact Craig Vance at 202-268-7595, or Susan Thomas at 202-268-8069.
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