[Federal Register Volume 76, Number 157 (Monday, August 15, 2011)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 50438-50441]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2011-20615]


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POSTAL SERVICE

39 CFR Part 111


Folded Self-Mailers and Unenveloped Mailpieces

AGENCY: Postal ServiceTM.

ACTION: Proposed rule.

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SUMMARY: The Postal Service proposes to revise the Mailing Standards of 
the United States Postal Service, Domestic Mail Manual (DMM[supreg]) 
201.3.14 to provide standards for creating folded self-mailers (FSM) 
and other unenveloped mailpieces such as forms, statements, and 
official notices that will improve processing of these pieces on 
automated Postal processing equipment.

DATES: We must receive your comments on or before September 14, 2011.

ADDRESSES: Mail or hand-deliver written comments to the manager, 
Product Classification, U.S. Postal Service[supreg], 475 L'Enfant 
Plaza, SW., Room 4446, Washington, DC 20260-5015. Interested parties 
may review and photocopy all written comments at USPS[supreg] 
Headquarters Library, 475 L'Enfant Plaza, SW., 11th Floor N, 
Washington, DC between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. Email 
comments that contain the name and address of the commenter, may be 
sent to: mailingstandards@usps.gov, with a subject line of ``FSM.'' 
Faxed comments will not be accepted.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Craig Vance at 202-268-7595, or Susan 
Thomas at 202-268-8069.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: In this proposed rule, the Postal Service 
defines letter-sized FSM, provides detailed standards about the basic 
elements of all FSM letter-sized pieces, and introduces ``panels'' as a 
basic element for constructing FSMs. Additionally, optional creative 
elements that are currently found in FSM designs, but are not defined 
in the DMM, are added.

History

    To improve the quality of FSMs, the USPS, in collaboration with the 
mailing industry, implemented a series of tests designed to identify 
the characteristics of FSMs that could be processed successfully on 
automated letter-sorting machines. Industry members, recommended 
through the Mailers Technical Advisory Council (MTAC), Postal Customer 
Councils (PCC) and the Business Service Network, were asked to provide 
sample mailpieces for testing. A wide array of mail owners, mail 
service providers, and vendors participated. The collaboration resulted 
in a better understanding of the capabilities and needs of the mailing 
community and enabled the Postal Service to align terms commonly used 
in the mailing industry with those in the proposed standards. Working 
together, the Postal Service attempted to strike a balance between 
innovation and mailpiece machinability.
    The outcome of this collaboration is a streamlined framework of 
proposed standards that aligns with existing letter-mail standards, 
provides specific information, and clearly defines the characteristics 
of additional design elements for mailers who create FSM mailpieces. 
Folded self-mailer maximum dimensions and weights are now proposed to 
align with other unenveloped letter standards. The dimensions will 
better delineate envelope and oversized cards when compared to 
unenveloped-type mail. Improved standards that are clear and easy to 
understand will encourage consistency and level-set the playing field 
minimizing delays in production and will help the Postal Service to 
control costs.
    Postal letter sorting equipment is capable of processing letters at 
the rate of 10 pieces per second. When prepared according to current 
standards and processed at that speed, some FSM designs have higher 
rates of damage and cause jams in letter sorting equipment that result 
in diverting those pieces to flat sorters or manual handling. Both 
alternate processes are time consuming and costly. This proposed rule 
provides standards for FSM and other unenveloped letter designs so 
those mailpieces can better withstand the rigors of letter automation 
processing.

Testing

    The collaborative testing focused on the primary characteristics of 
folded self-mailers. Four characteristics proved to be the most 
important--dimensions, basis weight of the paper that forms the

[[Page 50439]]

outer sheet, closure method, and closure placement.
    Testing revealed a strong correlation between higher damage, 
equipment jam rates, and lower throughput as the basis weight of the 
paper decreased or as the size of the FSM increased. The closure method 
and placement of closures greatly affected machinability. Continuous 
glue lines were determined to be the optimal method of sealing a FSM. 
Use of a continuous glue line has been severely limited in the mailing 
industry, because the existing equipment used by many is not currently 
capable of producing continuous glue lines. As an alternative, the 
Postal Service introduced elongated glue lines (dashes) and patterns of 
glue spots to simulate glue lines. Testing also revealed that a one tab 
closure produces an insufficient seal, so we propose that two or more 
tabs be required depending on the design and total weight of the 
mailpiece. Other factors that affected automation compatibility were:
     Mailpiece thickness.
     Total piece weight.
     Fold orientation.
     Thickness of attachments or enclosures within a mailpiece.
     Flap size, style, and orientation.
     Number of panels.
    Panels are created when sheets of paper are folded--each two-sided 
section created by folding is called a panel. The number of folds 
determines the number of panels within the mailpiece. In addition to 
these primary characteristics, the following optional design elements 
were also considered during testing:
     Loose inserts secured in pockets.
     Attachments to the interior and exterior of the mailpiece.
     Die-cut elements.
     Perforations.
    The aggregate data generated from testing was analyzed using Lean 
Six Sigma (LSS) methodologies to develop a framework of potential 
minimum and maximum standards. The initial framework was based on 
optimized standards represented as 10 basic categories of FSMs. This 
framework was provided to the participants of the FSM study and 
meetings were conducted to begin the refinement process and develop a 
draft of proposed revised DMM standards. This collaborative process 
spanned six months. In addition to these meetings, the USPS reached out 
to others in the design and production segments of the industry to gain 
more specific knowledge and insight into their capabilities and needs. 
Based on participant feedback, the Postal Service restructured the 
original framework, aligned break-points, and crafted proposed 
standards beginning with a basic folded self-mailer profile. Additional 
optional creative elements were then incorporated to provide more 
design flexibility.
    As the Postal Service worked through refinement of the initial 
proposed framework, built on Lean Six Sigma methodology, an attempt was 
made to find the balance between creativity and machinability that also 
allowed additional design options for FSM. The updated standards will 
be mutually beneficial.
    A Folded Self-Mailer Reference Material document was developed as 
supporting information to this proposed rule. The document summarizes 
information of the proposed standards, includes illustrations that 
demonstrate some of the options for fold style, and includes closure 
methods and optional elements that may be incorporated into a basic 
folded self-mailer letter. The document can be found at: https://ribbs.usps.gov/index.cfm?page=FSM.
    Although we are exempt from the notice and comment requirements of 
the Administrative Procedure Act [5 U.S.C. of 553(b), (c)] regarding 
proposed rulemaking by 39 U.S.C. 410(a), we invite public comments on 
the following proposed revisions to Mailing Standards of the United 
States Postal Service, Domestic Mail Manual (DMM), incorporated by 
reference in the Code of Federal Regulations. See 39 CFR Part 111.1.

List of Subjects in 39 CFR Part 111

    Administrative practice and procedure, Postal Service.

    Accordingly, 39 CFR Part 111 is proposed to be amended as follows:

PART 111--[AMENDED]

    1. The authority citation for 39 CFR Part 111 is revised to read as 
follows:

    Authority:  5 U.S.C. 552(a); 13 U.S.C. 301-307; 18 U.S.C. 1692-
1737; 39 U.S.C. 101, 401, 403, 404, 414, 416, 3001-3011, 3201-3219, 
3403-3406, 3621, 3622, 3626, 3632, 3633, and 5001.

    2. Revise the following sections of Mailing Standards of the United 
States Postal Service, Domestic Mail Manual (DMM) as follows:

Mailing Standards of the United States Postal Service, Domestic Mail 
Manual (DMM)

* * * * *

200 Commercial Letters and Cards

201 Physical Standards

* * * * *

3.0 Physical Standards for Machinable and Automation Letters and Cards

* * * * *

3.14 Folded Self-Mailers

    [Delete current text of 3.14 in its entirety and replace with the 
following:]

3.14.1 Definition

    A folded self-mailer is formed of panels that are created when one 
or more unbound sheets of paper are folded together and sealed to make 
a letter-size mailpiece. The number of panels is determined by the 
number of sheets in the mailpiece and the number of times the sheets 
are folded.

3.14.2 Size

    Folded self-mailers are:
    a. Length: A minimum of 5 inches and a maximum of 10\1/2\ inches.
    b. Height: A minimum of 3\1/2\ inches and a maximum of 6 inches.
    c. 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.
    d. Maximum Weight: 3 ounces.
    e. Rectangular, with four square corners and parallel opposite 
sides.
    f. Within an aspect ratio (length divided by height) of 1.3 to 2.5, 
inclusive (see 601.1.4).
    g. 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.

3.14.3 Panels

    Panels are created when a sheet of paper is folded. When a folded 
self-mailer is made of multiple sheets, multiply the number of sheets 
by the number of panels created when folding a single sheet to 
determine the total number of panels. The following conditions apply:
    a. Panels created by folding must be equal or nearly equal in size.
    b. The final folded edge must be the bottom of a folded self-mailer 
unless prepared as an oblong. The final folded edge of an oblong folded 
self-mailer must be the leading (right) edge.
    c. Shorter panels must be internal to the mailpiece, covered by a 
full-size panel, and count toward the maximum number of panels.
    d. The final folded panel creates the back (non-address) side of 
the mailpiece. The open edge of the back panel must be at the top or 
within 1

[[Page 50440]]

inch of the top or trail (left) edge of the mailpiece.
    e. Folding methods and the subsequent number of panels created when 
folding a single sheet of paper are:
    1. Bi-fold: Folded once forming two panels.
    2. Tri-fold: Folded twice forming three panels.
    3. Oblong: Paper with one elongated dimension and parallel opposite 
sides folded once to form two rectangular panels. The final folded edge 
must be the leading (shorter) edge.
    4. Quarter-fold: Folded two times with each fold at a right angle 
(perpendicular) to the preceding fold. One sheet of paper quarter-
folded creates four panels.
    f. Flaps are formed when an extended portion of the final panel is 
folded over an interior panel and affixed to the unaddressed side of 
the mailpiece and must meet the following conditions:
    1. Flaps begin at the top of the mailpiece and end one inch or more 
above the bottom edge. Flaps must be at least 1\1/2\ inches long when 
measured from the top of the mailpiece.
    2. Flaps must be secured with a seal as described in 3.14.4.
    3. Die-cut shaped flaps are firmly secured with a tab, glue line, 
glue spots or elongated glue lines. A \1/8\-inch wide continuous glue 
line that seals the contour of the die-cut is strongly recommended.
    4. Flaps on oblong mailpieces are at least 5 inches long at the 
longest point when measured from the leading edge and end more than one 
inch from the trailing edge.
    g. Flaps and pockets prepared within folded self-mailers to 
stabilize enclosures are not counted as panels.

3.14.4 Sealing Methods

    Folded self-mailers may be sealed using tabs or glue under the 
following conditions:
    a. Tabs. When tabs are used to seal FSMs, use non-perforated paper 
tabs to seal folded self-mailers. Tabs with a tear strength of 50 grams 
force (gf) machine 55gf cross direction are recommended. The size and 
number of tabs required is determined by the weight of the mailpiece 
and optional design elements as follows:
    1. To seal all bi-fold and tri-fold self-mailers and quarter-folded 
self-mailers that weigh one ounce or less, affix one tab either on the 
top edge within one inch of the leading and one tab within one inch of 
the trailing edge or affix one tab on the leading and one tab on the 
trailing edges within one inch of the top.
    2. To seal oblong folded self-mailers, affix two tabs in the center 
of the top and trailing edges or on the trailing edge within one inch 
of the top and bottom. Tabs may not be applied to the bottom of an 
oblong mailpiece.
    3. To seal quarter-folded mailpieces that weigh more than one ounce 
and quarter-folded mailpieces made of newsprint, affix two tabs on the 
leading and trailing edges within 1 inch from the top, with one 
additional tab affixed on the lower leading edge \1/2\ inch from the 
bottom (see 3.14.5).
    b. Glue. The glue must be positioned within \1/4\ inch of the open 
edges and be placed opposite the final fold or on the leading and 
trailing edge when the final panel fold is on the bottom. Apply glue by 
one of the following methods:
    1. Continuous glue lines at least \1/8\-inch wide (0.125 inch).
    2. Three or four glue spots at least \3/8\ inch (0.375 inch) in 
diameter.
    3. Three or four elongated glue lines. Seal folded self-mailers 
that weigh up to one ounce with lines at least \1/2\-inch long. Seal 
folded self-mailers that weigh more than one ounce with glue lines 
either \1/8\-inch wide and at least 1-inch long or \1/4\-inch wide and 
at least \1/2\-inch long.
    4. Glue spots and elongated glue lines should be distributed evenly 
along open edges.
    5. Quarter-folded self-mailers must be sealed with tabs.

3.14.5 Paper Weight and Sealing Requirements

    All references in 3.0 to paper basis weight are for book-grade 
paper unless otherwise stated (see 3.2). When multiple optional design 
elements are incorporated in a single mailpiece, the standards for the 
design element with the highest paper weight and corresponding sealing 
methods apply. Folded self-mailer paper weights and sealing methods 
are:
    a. Basic bi-fold, tri-fold, and oblong folded self-mailers as 
described in 3.14.3:
    1. Up to 1 ounce: 70 lb paper sealed with a continuous glue line, 
three glue spots; or elongated glue lines under 3.14.4b; or two 1-inch 
tabs under 3.14.4a1 and 3.14.4a2.
    2. Over 1 ounce: 80 lb paper sealed with a continuous glue line, 
four glue spots; or four elongated glue lines under 3.14.4b; or two 
1\1/2\-inch tabs under 3.14.4a1 and 3.14.4a2.
    b. Basic quarter folded self-mailers as described in 3.14.3:
    1. Up to 1 ounce: 70 lb paper sealed with two 1-inch tabs.
    2. Over 1 ounce: 80 lb paper sealed with three 1\1/2\-inch tabs.
    3. Newsprint: 55 lb minimum paper. Seal pieces with three 1\1/2\ 
inches tabs, see 3.14.4a3.
    c. Optional Design Elements: Die-cut openings and perforated panes. 
Folded self-mailers with die cut openings in the exterior panels as 
described in 3.14.6 or perforated panes as described in 3.14.7 must 
meet the following:
    1. Up to 1 ounce: 100 lb paper sealed with glue under 3.14.4b, or 
two 1\1/2\ inches tabs under 3.14.4a1 and 3.14.4a2.
    2. Over 1 ounce: 120 lb paper sealed with glue under 3.14.4b, or 
two 2-inch tabs under 3.14.4a1 and 3.14.4a2 or three 1\1/2\ inches tabs 
under 3.14.4a3.
    d. Optional Design Elements: Loose enclosures and attachments. For 
folded self-mailers that have loose enclosures as described in 3.14.8 
or attachments as described in 3.14.9, the following applies:
    1. Up to 1 ounce: 80 lb paper sealed with glue under 3.14.4b or two 
1\1/2\ inches tabs under 3.14.4a1 and 3.14.4a2.
    2. Over 1 ounce: 100 lb paper sealed with glue under 3.14.4b, or 
two 2-inch tabs under 3.14.4a1 and 3.14.4a2 or three 1\1/2\ inches tabs 
under 3.14.4a3.

3.14.6 Die Cut Elements

    Folded self-mailers may be produced with two distinct types of die 
cut elements in the exterior panels: address windows or die-cut reveal 
openings used to draw attention to important information within the 
mailpiece. Die cut openings may not be used to create die cut punched 
holes (that exist in the same location on all layers and panels so that 
there is an opening through the entire mailpiece). Prepare die cut 
elements as follows:
    a. Die cut address windows (used to convey address information) 
must conform to all standards for window envelopes under 601.6.4 and 
meet the following additional conditions:
    1. Windows may be up to 2 inches high by 4 inches long.
    2. When an address window appears on a mailpiece, no other die cut 
shapes may be made on the exterior panels.
    b. Die cut reveal openings (used to reveal the contents of the 
mailpiece), are:
    1. Limited to two on only one of the external panels.
    2. Either circular with a 2-inch maximum diameter or rectangular 
and a maximum of 1\1/2\ inches high by 2 inches long with slightly 
rounded \1/4\ inch radius corners.
    3. Placed at least 1\1/2\ inches from all edges of the mailpiece if 
on the addressed side.
    4. Placed at least 5 inches from the leading edge and 1\1/2\ inches 
from all other edges if on the non-addressed side.
    5. Positioned at least 1\1/2\ inches apart when two or more die cut 
openings are used.

[[Page 50441]]

    c. A single \1/2\ inch semi-circular die cut thumb notch, used in 
conjunction with an opening device, may be on the trailing edge of the 
addressed or nonaddressed outer panel.

3.14.7 Perforated Strips and Panes

    Folded self-mailers may be prepared with strips or panes that are 
pulled open to reveal the contents. These design elements are placed on 
the unaddressed side of the mailpiece and may be rectangular, circular, 
or oval shaped. Perforations, a row of small holes punched in a sheet 
of paper so that a part can be torn easily, are used to create the 
openings. They may be pull-open strips, pop-out, or pop-open panes 
subject to the following prepared requirements:
    a. Two perforated lines creating a pull open strip must be parallel 
and spaced at least \1/2\ inch apart. Position perforated strips 
parallel to the height (the short side) of the mailpiece at least 5 
inches from the leading and 2 inches from the trailing edge. Position 
perforated strips parallel to the length (the long side) of the 
mailpiece at least 1 inch from the top. Perforations have a 2mm cut 
(max)/4mm tie (min) ratio or a 3mm cut (max)/3mm tie (min) ratio.
    b. Pop-out panes have perforations around the entire perimeter. The 
full perimeter of the pop-out is a maximum of 4 inches long by 4 inches 
high, and:
    1. Have panes placed at least 1 inch from any edge.
    2. Are 2mm cut (max)/2mm tie (min) ratio.
    3. When using two panes, must be spaced at least 1 inch apart.
    4. May not have any address elements appear in perforated openings.
    c. Pop-open panes have perforations on three sides and meet the 
following conditions:
    1. The full perimeter of the pull-open panel is a maximum of 4 
inches long by 4 inches high.
    2. If prepared with multiple panes, they must be spaced at least 1 
inch apart.
    3. Panes must be placed at least 1 inch from all edges.
    4. Perforation patterns have 2 mm cut (max)/2 mm tie (min) ratio.
    d. Perforated panes may not be on mailpieces with die-cut design 
elements or on any mailpiece made of newsprint.

3.14.8 Loose Enclosures

    Loose enclosures included within a folded self-mailer must be made 
of paper under the following conditions:
    a. Must be secured within a folded self-mailer to ensure 
containment and prevent excessive shift during processing.
    b. May be inserted in an interior pocket or secured by any other 
method that prevents excessive shift during processing. Pockets are not 
counted as panels.
    c. Enclosures are fully covered by the outer panels of the 
mailpiece.
    d. Folded self-mailers with die-cut openings may contain enclosures 
if the inserted material is larger than the die cut opening.
    e. Enclosed material does not exceed the maximum thickness of:
    1. 0.05 inch thick for weights up to 1 ounce.
    2. 0.09 inch thick for weights over 1 ounce.

3.14.9 Attachments

    Attachments may be secured on the outside of a folded self-mailer 
under 3.13. Attachments may be secured within folded self-mailers under 
the following conditions:
    a. The attachment is affixed to an inside panel and secured it at 
least \1/2\ inch from any edge.
    b. The attached material may not exceed a maximum thickness of:
    1. 0.05 inch thick for weights up to 1 ounce.
    2. 0.09 inch thick for weights over 1 ounce.
    c. Multiple attachments must remain nearly uniform in thickness.
    d. When multiple attachments are affixed to separate panels in 
stacked alignment, the combined thickness of the attachments must be 
equal to or less than the maximum thickness.
    e. When multiple attachments are affixed adjacent to each other 
across the length of a mailpiece, the thickest attachment must be equal 
to or less than the maximum thickness.
    f. Quarter-folded self-mailer may only have one internal attachment 
not exceeding 0.012 inch thick. The attachment must be secured at least 
0.5 inch from all edges.

3.14.10 Addressing

    Printing addresses in a center or left-justified position within 
the optical character reader (OCR) area under 2.1 is recommended when 
folded self-mailers are prepared with uncoated paper.

3.15 Unenveloped Mailpieces

3.15.1 Lunch-Bag Style

    Lunch-bag style mailpieces consists of two symmetrical horizontal 
panels sealed together along top and bottom edges. Lunch-bag style 
mailpieces must meet the following conditions:
    a. Join panels using \1/8\ (0.125) inch continuous glue lines.
    b. If flaps are used, they must be a minimum of at least 1\1/2\ 
inches wide and created as inner flaps adhered at the leading and 
trailing edges to the panel from which the flap is formed.
    c. All paper weight and sealing requirements in 3.14.5c and 3.14.5d 
must be met.

3.15.2 Tear-Off Strips

    When mailpieces have tear-off opening devices on the leading or 
trailing edge, the unfolded edges must be sealed with an adhesive 
(glue) or by a cohesive method. Unlike glue that will adhere to any 
surface, a cohesive seal requires two fixative patterns placed on top 
of each other to create a bond. The top-sealed edges may have a 
perforated horizontal line no lower than \9/16\ (0.5625) inch from the 
top that joins the leading and trailing edge perforations. Mailpieces 
with sealed sides must meet the following conditions.
    a. Tear off strips may be up to \9/16\ inch (0.5625) wide.
    b. Tear lines (single lines of perforations) on pieces that weigh 
one ounce or less, must be 1 mm cut (max)/1 mm tie (min) ratio.
    c. Tear lines (single lines of perforations) on pieces that weigh 
more than one ounce must be 1 mm cut (max)/2 mm tie (min) ratio.
* * * * *
    We will publish an appropriate amendment to 39 CFR part 111 to 
reflect these changes if our proposal is adopted.

Stanley F. Mires,
Chief Counsel, Legislative.
[FR Doc. 2011-20615 Filed 8-12-11; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 7710-12-P