If you’ve dealt with checks, you’re probably familiar with the term “MICR toner”.
MICR is short for magnetic ink character recognition.
MICR toner cartridges are specialty toners that the banking industry use for check processing.
A MICR toner is a toner that is first magnetized and then translated into characters by a machine specialized for this process. These unique characters are like modern-day fingerprints that are utilized to prevent frauds.
The toner is arranged in a specific pattern or in a certain syntax to be read by machines that were specifically designed to do this job.
How do MICR cartridges work?
A MICR cartridge comes with special toner powder that has been designed specifically for printing checks.
MICR toners can print out a bank’s routing number, account number, and check number on a check –which is also known as “MICR line”. This provides both the consumer and the banking institution with security when it comes to making transactions.
The MICR toner formula operates alongside a special font known as E-13B to produce a unique combination of characters on a check. This significantly reduces the risk of fraud during the check-processing period.
When are MICR toner cartridges used?
They’re used solely for printing checks. If you print a check with a regular toner cartridge, the bank will probably reject it when it is processed. This may lead to you being charged a fee by your financial institution.
What kind of printers use MICR toner cartridge?
You can find a lot of standard laser printers that can print with MICR toner cartridges.
While there are some printers that specialize in MICR printing.
You can find a lot of remanufactured MICR toner cartridges that are compatible with a number of standard laser printers are LD products.
TROY Security Solutions are also another option for consumers that are looking for MICR-specific printers.
If you don’t print check that often, a standard laser that is compatible with MICR toner cartridges would serve the purpose.
However, this means you'll need to have two types of toner cartridges in stock. A regular toner cartridge and MICR toner.
If you use a MICR printer, you will be limited to using MICR toner. So if you’re planning to print everyday documents, you’ll need to buy a second printer.
But what’s the difference between MICR ink and MICR toner?
Both MICR ink and MICR toner are used to print special numbers known as MICR lines on checks.
On the one hand, MICR ink is used to print checks on Inkjet printers. On the other hand, MICR toner is used to print them on laser printers.
Both kinds of cartridges should meet ANSI standard for check printing if they’re originally manufactured and not refilled or remanufactured.
See also: Why Do Printer Cartridges Cost So Much?
An Inkjet MICR printer or a laser MICR printer is Better?
The things that help you decide would be print volumes, speed, and security requirements.
Inkjet printers print at a much slower rate than laser ones, and checks follow that rule. Its speed is about 20 pages per minute (ppm), and you probably won’t find an inkjet printer that can print MICR at a higher speed than that.
Moreover, they aren’t a scalable as laser printers when it comes to accessories such as drawers, trays, and security options.
On the other hand, MICR printers provide users with a broader range of speeds that go from 26 to 62 pages per minute.
They also give users various additional trays and drawers for multiple types of check stocks.
MICR laser printers are more secure and provide you with stronger security features to prevent checks from being printed with non-MICR toner, restrict access to the check-printing process, as well as protect and encrypt the check data as it’s traveling to the printer.
How many checks you print is the key factor in deciding which one to go for.
A small business that prints only a few checks here and there should find a MICR ink printer suitable.
However, if a large volume of check-printing is required or if the checks are dealt with by multiple employees, a secure MICR laser printer would be the better option to go with.
Read more: How to pick a printer - full guide.
This is why businesses print checks with MICR ink and toner
All banks and the Federal Reserve require that checks be printed with MICR toner or ink to be processed easily.
As a check moves through the check clearing system, it goes through reader/sorter that sends a magnetic charge to the check. This allows the machine to read the information that's included within the MICR line.
If a check is printed with regular ink (non-MICR) or toner, the reader/sorter will not accept the check. In this case, manual processes for the bank to process the check will be required and the company that printed the document would face check reject fees.
Some aspects to consider about MICR toners
MICR toners are usually a lot more expensive than ordinary toners. This is due to their high manufacturing cost.
Regular toners come with a high-quality standard to pass just like the quality of a MICR toner. However, MICR toners typically do further additional scans for errors.
MICR toners are typically used by people that are looking to print their own checks. The MICR characters are usually printed on the bottom of a check to allow the highly accurate and automatic reading of both the checking account number and the institutional routing numbers.
Even though some inkjet printers can print with MICR ink, most of the time, you’ll need to print using a laser printer to print MICR encoded checks.
These laser printers use special laser printer toner cartridges that have the appropriate levels of magnetic components and necessary particles to be magnetized by the reader.