Your business uses an array of memos, letters, documents and even single- and multipart forms. Multipart forms enable you to distribute one form to a client or associate and keep a form for your records. When printing multipart forms, you need to use an impact printer to speed up the printing process as well as to ensure that each form within the multipart packet is imprinted properly. Impact printers are also known as dot matrix printers and are compatible with a variety of PC and Mac systems.


Impact printers use ribbons instead of ink cartridges, and the printers contain a single printhead consisting of a number of pins that strikes the ribbon and then the form. The printers are capable of outputting between 300 and 700 characters per second onto multipart forms consisting of five, six and seven pages within the form packet. Multipart forms and paper used in impact printers are also known as fan fold paper as well as continuous form paper. The forms and paper moves through the printer's tractor feed unit. As the printer outputs a multipart form, the tractor feed unit moves each form out of the printer and routes the forms behind the printer.


Impact printers are capable of outputting preprinted forms that use a template on your computer as well as forms from applications that print on blank continuous form paper. Forms include invoices, sales orders, statements, bills of lading, shipping labels, checks and W-2 tax forms. Preprinted forms are available from a variety of office and paper supply stores and printing services that can produce custom forms for your business.

Form Separation

After an impact printer outputs your forms, the forms are all connected and you must separate each printed form manually before distributing the forms to recipients. The forms contain perforations along the sides, tops and bottoms that enable you to quickly separate the forms without cutting them with scissors or similar tools. Some impact printers contain baskets behind the printers that collect printed forms and documents.


Laser and inkjet printers are also capable of printing multipart forms, but the forms are not continuous. You must reload the forms frequently due to the printers' paper tray limits. You can load a box of continuous form paper into an impact printer and let the printer run without interacting with the device. Also, impact printer ribbons are not as expensive as laser printer toner and inkjet printer ink.