A Buyer’s Guide to Purchasing Magnetic Ink

grey u magnet freehand

There are a lot of different types of ink on the market. From your standard black and tri-color inkjet cartridges to cartridges filled with special types of ink that are used in specific applications, there are many more ink types than many people realize. One special type is known as magnetic ink. This ink, which is readable by both humans and specialized equipment, is widely used in the financial industry to improve speed and accuracy in the business world. If you are shopping for magnetic ink, there are a few things to keep in mind. Keep reading to check out our buyer’s guide to purchasing magnetic ink.

What Is Magnetic Ink?

Magnetic ink is an extremely useful type of ink that makes processing personal checks fast, secure and accurate. It typically contains iron oxide particles that are magnetized and can be ready using specialized equipment that is compatible with Magnetic Ink Character Recognition (MICR) technology.

Each magnetized character has its own unique signature, which allows MICR equipment to quickly identify each character with a high degree of accuracy. Even if the characters have been obscured by other marks or altered by non-magnetic ink, MICR equipment can read them quickly and accurately.

closeup check with penBanks and financial institutions around the world use MICR equipment to process large quantities of personal checks and other types of financial documents. Magnetic ink, toner cartridges, check printing software and printers are widely available for small business and home applications as well. This allows the general public to take advantage of the benefits of the MICR technology that was once only available to financial institutions and large corporations.

How Does MICR Scanning Work?

MICR technology has been used on printed checks since 1959. Several decades later, the process remains the same, but the technology has improved greatly to allow for greater efficiency and accuracy.

Checks are printed with a series of characters at the bottom. These characters are printed using magnetic ink that can be read by MICR read heads. When a check is inserted into a scanner, the magnetic ink is charged by passing over a magnet. It then passes over the MICR read head and is read and decoded. If the scanner is unable to read and decode the characters, the check is rejected and must be manually verified.

MICR technology saves banks and financial institutions time while preventing potentially costly human error. It also aids in fraud detection by detecting when regular ink has been used in an attempt to alter the information on a check.

Shopping for Magnetic Ink

Printing your own checks is an effective way to save money and avoid running out of checks at an inopportune time. If you plan to do so, however, you need to be familiar with the process, and you need to ensure that you purchase the right type of ink.

When you want to print your own checks that are truly MICR compatible, an MICR laser printer and compatible toner is the way to go. There are inkjet printers that accept magnetic ink, but they do not produce the same quality as their laser counterparts. In inkjet cartridges, the magnetic particles sometimes settle to the bottom. As a result, there is little magnetic strength when you print. Checks printed with regular ink that does not contain the magnetic particles are perfectly legal, but they are likely to trigger an error when scanned. Choosing to use MICR-compatible laser toner simplifies the process and helps ensure that your checks will be read by equipment properly.

When you are looking for MICR toner, OEM cartridges are usually the best option. They are designed by your printer’s manufacturer, and they meet its exact specifications. While OEM toner cartridges are more expensive, they contain the highest quality toner and result in the best possible prints. Compatible MICR toner cartridges cost significantly less than OEM cartridges and, in many cases, they offer high-quality results as well. When shopping, make sure the product or brand you choose adheres to ANSI standards to ensure that the checks you print will clear any financial institution’s check-clearing system.

Closing Thoughts

Printing your own checks for business or personal use is a great way to save money while preventing fraud. By using high-quality magnetic ink, you can be sure that your checks will be read easily by modern MICR scanning equipment.