MICR Ink vs. MICR Toner: What Is MICR Ink?

What’s the difference between MICR Ink and MICR Toner?

The term “MICR” is an acronym. It stands for Magnetic Ink Character Recognition and refers to the special numbers at the bottom of checks that include the account number, a bank’s routing number, check number, etc. Both MICR ink and MICR toner is used to print the special numbers, also known as the MICR line, on checks.

MICR ink is used for check–printing on Inkjet printers. MICR toner is used for check-printing on laser printers. Assuming the magnetic ink or toner cartridges are originally manufactured (as opposed to refilled or remanufactured), then both kinds of cartridges should meet ANSI (ansi.org) standards for check printing.

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Should I use an inkjet MICR printer or a laser MICR printer?

Print volumes, speed and security requirements should help you decide what kind of check printer you need. Inkjet printers are known to print much slower than laser printers, and printing checks is no exception. It will be difficult to find an inkjet printer that will print MICR at speeds much higher than 20 pages-per-minute (ppm). Inkjet printers also aren’t nearly as scalable as laser printers in terms of accessories – trays, drawers, or security options.

Workgroup laser MICR printers offer a broader range of speeds (26-62ppm) and a variety of additional trays and drawers for multiple types of check stock. Secure MICR laser printers also include an in-depth array of security features to prevent checks from being printed with non-MICR toner, to restrict access to the check-printing process, even to protect and encrypt the check data as it’s traveling to the printer.

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The check printing environment is key to deciding which kind of solution to use. Very small businesses that print only a few checks a day or week might find a MICR ink solution suitable, but environments where volumes are more significant or there are multiple employees involved in the process should utilize a secure MICR laser printer solution.

Why do businesses print checks with MICR ink and toner?

The Federal Reserve and all banks require that checks be printed with MICR ink or toner for ease of processing. As a check travels through the check clearing system, it passes through reader-sorters which send a magnetic charge to the check, allowing the machine to read the information contained within the MICR line. If a check or other negotiable document is printed with regular (non-MICR) ink or toner, the reader/sorter will reject the check, creating manual processes for the bank to process the check, and cause the company that printed the document to be charged with check reject fees.

Learn more about Source Technologies’ secure check printers and originally manufactured MICR toner to meet your check printing volumes and security requirements.

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