The envelope is an essential part of home and business communication. It is basically a receptacle for transporting letters, booklets, catalogs, coins, mailers, and invitations, CDs, photos, artwork, magazines and much more.

Envelopes can be divided into two major categories, for business and for personal use. They are found in abundant and attractive shapes, sizes, colors, materials and designs. Shapes are generally square and rectangle, and sometimes triangular. Sizes can range from 3 inches to 36 inches for special items. Sizes are also commonly known by a terminology, such as A2, which indicates 4 3/8 x 5 3/4 sized envelope. Similarly there are #10, A6, 2PAY and other names by which envelopes are categorized.

Colors exist from pale, transparent types to bright, metallic. The texture could be plain or with patterns. Generally envelopes are made from paper. But some are foil, corrugated sheets, plastic, paperboard and bubbled material. Again they could be lined with linen cloth from the inside for extra strength.

For sending CD’s, magnetic cards, medical imaging products and coins, special envelopes are available with regular, pointed, curved or hexed flap, open ended, with clasp, with window, button and string, gummed or with a peel and seal feature. For the environment conscious, envelopes are available in recycled paper with colors like natural tan, manila, white or unbleached.

Addressing and dispatching envelopes has become big business. Often the job is outsourced to companies and individuals. Although automatic insertion machines are also available, they can accommodate only few specific sizes and types of envelopes. Special software is used for printing addresses.

Until 1840 all envelopes were made by hand. But now this worldwide industry of over 400 billion envelopes manufactured by machines.

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