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

Author: Source Technologies

MICR printers use special MICR ink and toner to print the numbers found on the bottom of both personal checks and business checks. Many financial institutions use MICR check printers or magnetic ink printers to mitigate check fraud and to ensure overall financial security. These printers use magnetic ink to print the MICR line on checks.

Here are the most frequently asked questions about MICR ink and MICR toner:

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

The term “MICR” stands for Magnetic Ink Character Recognition. The MICR characters refer to the MICR numbers on checks that include account number, routing number, and check number. Both MICR ink and MICR toner magnetically print these numbers on the MICR line

What’s the main difference between MICR ink and MICR toner? MICR ink is magnetic ink used for check–printing on Inkjet printers. MICR toner is used for check-printing on laser printers. 

There are two types of MICR toner: Originally Manufactured and Remanufactured MICR Toner. Assuming the magnetic ink or toner cartridges are originally manufactured (as opposed to refilled or remanufactured), then both kinds of cartridges would meet ANSI (ansi.org) standards for check printing.

View MICR Toner

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

It all depends on the print volume, speed, and security requirements. These factors 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.

View MICR Laser Printers

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 printer suitable. 

On the contrary, 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?

Magnetic ink for checks is designed to work in tandem with requirements set by the Federal Reserve. The Federal Reserve and all banks 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 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. This creates manual processes for the bank to process the check, and causes the company that printed the document to be charged with check reject fees.

Where can you get MICR products?

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

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