Everyday banks impose a clearing time on checks and have you ever wondered why it takes some time to get checks processed? It takes time to process checks because checks need to go through a machine that banks call a reader-sorter. Exactly what its name implies, a reader-sorter machine sorts out checks based on the information printed on the bottom of the check itself, which includes information like your account number, the check number and the routing number. All of the information is formatted using a special font and has to be in a correct order and position on the check. However, the reader-sorter would only work if the correct ink is used in printing out the check. The correct ink is called an MICR. MICR stands for Magnetic Ink Character Recognition. You would assume that the word Ink assumes it is liquid, but most office laser printers use MICR Toner.
What is a MICR Toner?
What is a MICR toner? The MICR toner is a special kind of toner that was specifically made to make the automation of check processing possible. There is a precise formula used for creating MICR toners, and the standard for producing them is mandated and regulated by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).
Basically, what makes the MICR toner a unique type of toner is that it contains iron oxide. The letters on MICR stand for “magnetic ink character recognition” and it is the iron oxide content that gives the MICR toner its magnetic properties. The magnetic properties of this toner are what allow the reader-sorter to be able to read and process a check. A correctly formulated MICR toner is supposed to emit the right signal to the reader-sorter to make the reading possible.
Precision Printing with MICR Toners
MICR toners need to be produced in just the right ratio in order to make using them for printing checks effective. ANSI requires MICR toners to emit the exact signal strength so the toner can be read by the reader-sorter machine.
But beyond the quality of the toner itself, the American Bankers Association (ABA) has set standards on fonts printed on checks. The fonts used on MICR lines, which is the line of personal information located on the bottom of each check, were specifically designed to make them machine-readable. In Israel, South America and the Mediterranean countries, the standard font is called the CMC-7. In the United States and the rest of the world, the MICR font used is the E-13B.
Precision is extremely necessary to make check printing with MICR toners work. The ABA imposes a strict fixed width for each MICR font character, which is 1/8th of an inch. Also, these characters have to be printed on the exact spot on the check where they are supposed to be. If these two conditions are not followed, then the reader-sorter machine would not be able to read and process the check. When the check is processed manually there is a bank fee that is accrued.
Another beautiful thing with MICR toners is that they provide a degree of security when it comes to printing checks. Checks need to be printed using a MICR Toner Cartridge; one cannot use any ordinary ink or toner. Some banks catch fraudulent checks, those printed with ordinary inks or toner.
Other Uses of the MICR Toner
Since precision and security are benchmarks of the MICR toner, many other industries have adopted the use of this special toner for their own printing needs. Airlines use MICR toners for printing their tickets. The same goes for events and concerts – their tickets are made with MICR toner as well. Most documents that require security and precision have come to rely on MICR toners to provide them these.
What is the best brand of MICR Toner?
For many years there have been several brands of MICR Toner used. Recently one company has risen above the rest with over 85% of all printers being used today is HP. HP has been expanding and upgrading it’s printers at a tremendous rate. HP MICR is by far the most widely used MICR Toner in the world.
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