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MICR Toner Printing - The Basics

Aug 29, 2008
Have you ever noticed the line of numbers printed at the bottom of each check in your checkbook? This part of your check is special because it is printed using a special type of ink. The line, called the MICR line, is unique line because it is printed with a specific type of ink, called an MICR toner. The MICR line is special because it contains information about the check, who issued it and where it came from. This information can be decoded by the bank.

Why Print With MICR Toners?

Consider the number of people and businesses all over the world that use checks. Each year, billions of checks are written and issued. It would be extremely difficult, actually impossible, to keep track of all of these checks without an automated process. MICR toner is a crucial part of the automated process.

Banks use industry-specific machines called reader-sorters. The reader-sorter processes every check the bank receives. The reader-sorter is equipped with MICR technology. MICR is actually pronounced "My-ker" and it is an acronym for magnetic ink character recognition. The reader-sorter can read the codes on checks that have been made using MICR toner.

How MICR Toners Work

Reader-sorter machines use MICR technology to read the codes printed with MICR toner. MICR toner contains iron oxide, which is a chemical compound that exhibits magnetic qualities.

Why is magnetic ink necessary? Think about the last check you got back from the bank. More than likely, it was written on and covered with various ink stamps. If the numeric check codes, or MICR lines, were printed with normal ink, any additional ink placed on top of the code would make the code impossible to read. However, the magnetic ink can be read no matter what is written or stamped on top of it. The rules governing the standards for MICR toners and MICR printing are made and enforced by the American National Standards Institute X9 Committee.

The Characters Printed with MICR Toners

The MICR line on checks must be printed using certain characters so that the reader-sorter machines will read them correctly. The font used for MICR lines is also unique to specific parts of the world. For example, a font called CMC-7 is used for Israel, South America, and the various Mediterranean countries, while the font E-13B is used for the rest of the world including the United States.

There are only 14 characters used in MICR fonts. The characters consist of the numbers 0 to 9 and symbols for Transit, Amount, On-Us, and Dash. The characters in MICR fonts are exactly 1/8th of an inch wide and they must be precisely placed on a check in order for the reader-sorter to decipher them correctly.

MICR Toners for Precision and Secure Printing

MICR toner was initially created as a tool to help banks minimize the amount of time it took to process checks. However, an unexpected benefit of the MICR toner is increased security. The precision required to create and read MICR technology creates a built-in form of security.

Because of the security benefit of MICR toner, other institutions have adopted this technology. Airline tickets, insurance premium receipts, and sales promotions are now printed using MICR toner.
About the Author
To Learn More about Troy MICR Toner or MICR Toner Cartridges please visit the Inkcarts Website.
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