MICR Ink vs MICR Toner

Author: Source Technologies

Magnetic ink character recognition (MICR) printers use special ink or toner to print the numbers found on the bottom of personal and business checks. Many financial institutions use MICR check printers to mitigate check fraud and ensure overall financial security.


What Is MICR Ink?

MICR ink is a specialized type of ink used in the printing of characters and symbols on documents, particularly on checks and other negotiable documents. 

The distinctive feature of MICR ink is that it contains iron oxide particles, which make it magnetic in nature. These iron oxide particles allow MICR readers and scanners to quickly and accurately read the characters and symbols printed with MICR ink.

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What Is MICR Toner?

MICR toner, similar to MICR ink, is specialized for printing characters and symbols on checks and negotiable documents. MICR toner also includes iron oxide particles, granting it magnetic properties crucial for precise recognition by MICR readers and scanners.

There are two types of MICR toner: originally manufactured and remanufactured.


What’s the Difference Between MICR Ink and MICR Toner?

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Both MICR ink and toner magnetically print MICR characters — including the account number, routing number, and check number — on a check’s MICR line

What makes them different is that MICR ink is magnetic ink used for check printing via inkjet printers, while MICR toner is used for check printing on laser printers.

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Do I Need MICR Toner to Print Checks?

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Magnetic ink for checks is designed to work in tandem with requirements set by the Federal Reserve. Both the Federal Reserve and all financial institutions require that checks be printed with MICR ink or toner for ease of check processing. 

As a check travels through the check-clearing system, it passes through a reader/sorter, which sends 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. This creates manual processes for the financial institution to process the check and causes the company that printed the document to be charged with check reject fees.


Should I Use MICR Ink or MICR Toner?

When evaluating MICR toner vs MICR ink, the real question you should be asking is whether to choose a laser printer or an inkjet printer. The answer to this question depends on your print volume, speed, and security requirements.

Inkjet printers are known to print much slower than laser printers, and printing checks are no exception. It’ll be difficult to find an inkjet printer that will print MICR at speeds 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.

On the other hand, workgroup laser MICR printers offer a broader range of speeds — 26 to 62 ppm — 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, restrict access to the check-printing process, and even protect and encrypt the check data as it’s traveling to the printer.

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


Need MICR Products? Turn to Source Technologies

From MICR ink and toner to MICR printing solutions, we can set your institution up to print checks off securely and efficiently. 

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