How to Make Magnetic Ink

Magnetic ink is for printing characters that are human and machine-readable. It is commonly used in businesses, banks, and government agencies worldwide. If you own a business, magnetic ink can be useful in printing vouchers and checks. Even though it might cost a bit initially, it helps you save money in the end.

Despite its popularity, not many people know how to make magnetic ink. While it is mostly an industrial process, you can make magnetic ink if you have the right equipment and material. Together with other aspects of magnetic ink and toner, this article discusses the best way of making magnetic ink at home. Could you keep reading to learn more about it?

How Do You Know If Ink Is Magnetic?

You can know that you have magnetic ink by exposing it to a magnet. If it spreads out in a particular direction, it is magnetic. It reacts to a magnet because of its magnetized iron oxide content, creating a ring of magnetic ink when a circular magnet is used. Magnetic ink is suitable for magnetic ink printers and can help print checks right in the office.

It works well with MICR (magnetic ink character recognition technology), making it possible for machines to read checks. The ink creates magnetized characters with a distinctive signature, allowing MICR equipment to identify each character accurately. It is possible to read the characters even when covered in non-magnetized ink with MICR equipment.

Testing for magnetism requires putting some of the ink into a beaker. Pass a magnet on the outside of the beaker to see if the ink reacts to the magnetic field. If it does, then it is magnetic. However, if the magnet doesn’t react, it is not magnetic.

What Is Magnetic Ink Made Of?

Magnetic ink is made of ferrofluid, consisting of nanoscale colloidal particles composed of FeCl2, FeCl3, and other iron II and iron III compounds. The fluid gets attracted to a magnet without getting permanently magnetized. You can make your own ferrofluid using simple additives.

Homemade ink can be made of black toner mixed with oil. You need to check if the toner is magnetic by pouring some in a beaker and passing a magnet to the outside. After mixing the toner and oil to a good consistency, you’ll have ink.

How to Make Magnetic Ink for Printer at Home?

ink on bottle

You can make your magnetic ink for a printer at home. Magnetic (MICR) ink contains magnetic powder, a binder resin, iron oxide, and a fine silica powder. The iron oxide particles are partly fixed and are part of the toner base particle’s outer surface.

Not just any iron oxide can be used for this process, with the best having a 1 x 105 to 1 x 1011 Ω.cm. The silica fine powder acts as the external additive agent for the resultant magnetic toner. You could use the following two methods to make black ink at home.

Method-1:

Take the magnetic powder, iron oxide, resin binder, and silica fine powder and mix them in a Henschel mixer. You can turn the machine up to between 1200 and 2000 rpm for two to six minutes or between 1400 to 1800 rpm for one to six minutes. Within a short time, the different components of the toner get mixed up, giving you the ink you’re looking for.

This method produces magnetic toner with an 80 to 200 percent reading rate. Besides, the toner can print lots of documents before getting exhausted. It contains tiny metal oxide particles, which are either titanium oxide, aluminum oxide, or both.

Particles of the metal oxide are so tiny that they measure between 50nm and 1µm and have Moh’s hardness between 5 and 7.5. Despite being an important part of the ink, the metal oxide is only up to two percent of the total weight of the toner.

The first magnetic powder used to make this ink has a residual magnetization of between 24 and 60 emu/g. However, the second magnetic powder has a residual magnetization of up to 24 emu/g.

Method-2:

In the second method, you need to use a Henschel machine. Again, the ingredients include a binder resin, magnetic powder, fine silica powder, and metal oxide particles.

Put all the ingredients in the machine in the necessary ratio. Turn the machine between 1200 and 2000 rpm for two to six minutes. Alternatively, you can operate the machine between 1400 and 2000 rpm for one to six minutes. The final toner will have part of the metal oxide particle exposed.

Magnetic Ink Vs Magnetic Toner

magnetic ink vs toner

There is a marked difference between magnetic ink and magnetic toner, even though some people use the two words interchangeably. Ink is a liquid that consists of nanometer-range tiny particles. On the other hand, magnetic toner is a powder containing micrometer-rage dry particles.

When used to print documents, magnetic ink absorbs into the paper before drying. Magnetic toner first melts and then adheres to the surface of the paper. For that reason, users prefer magnetic toner for printing MICR characters on cheques and other official documents.

Unlike regular toner, which is used to print regular documents, magnetic toner helps print checks and other key documents. Whether you have magnetic ink or toner, you need a LaserJet printer. You can then get appropriate software for formatting checks, MICR fonts, and special paper.

What Is Magnetic Ink Used For?

Magnetic ink is used to print checks, which require reading by human beings and machines alike. The technology behind that is ink recognition (MICR), a technology for verifying the originality and legitimacy of paper documents. The in prints special characters on a document. When the document is passing through a MICR machine, it gets recognized.

Thus, magnetic black ink is important in enhancing security and minimizing losses due to fraud. It distinguishes genuine checks from those printed or photocopied using regular ink. In case of a forged check, the magnetic line isn’t responsive to the machine’s magnetic field. It may also create an incorrect code.

A magnetic ink printer may make a thin film of special characters recognizable by a MICR machine. Sometimes, a MICR machine may expose the check writer for previously writing dishonored checks. In that case, even a genuine check can get rejected. Besides, it can use in an ink pen.

How Does Magnetic Ink Work?

By creating MICR characters, magnetic ink creates a link between human and computer communication. While humans can read the visible characters on a document, machines utilize the secret language comparable to barcodes. Thus, it makes documents easier to understand by both humans and machines.

Underneath each printed character created using MICR ink, there is an unseen magnetic code that human eyes cannot decipher. Magnetic ink has iron oxide particles that get magnetized when printed.

The purpose of a MICR reader is to decipher the printed numbers using their magnetic properties instead of the outward look of the numeric characters. In short, the MICR reader doesn’t interpret each character as a whole. Instead, it detects four separate magnetic charges to decode the number. There are two positive and negative charges along each character’s linear track.

Consider magnetic charges to be security gates. If each character has four ‘gates’ in each of the 40 special characters, a check must get authenticated at more than 160 checkpoints before getting processed.

Any single discrepancy in the check flags it as potentially bad. Therefore, the bank teller has to inspect the check to authenticate it manually.

Can Any Printer Use Magnetic Ink?

No. Not any printer can use magnetic ink. If you use ink in an inkjet printer, the iron oxide particles end up settling to the bottom. This compromises the strength and quality of the magnetic print. It can be impossible for the MICR reader to recognize the characters with diminished strength, triggering an error.

A good option is to use MICR toner in laser printers. It is ideal for printing checks since its iron oxide particles are much more compatible with solid toner. Therefore, printing with a laser printer is more effective than using DIY magnetic ink.

Benefits of Magnetic Ink:

  • Preventing Fraud: Magnetic ink is important in preventing check fraud. When printed with ink, checks get extremely difficult to forge, thus providing extra security for businesses and individuals alike. Furthermore, MICR machines can detect checks written by individuals with a history of writing bad checks.
  • Automated Check Processing: Besides, it removes the need to handle and process checks manually. Once you pass a check through a MICR reader, it will capture all the necessary information, making it extremely easy and convenient for you.
  • Retrieval of Information: Regardless of how roughly you handle the checks, information on them cannot lost. That includes overfolded and over-stamped checks, which could be hard to read with the naked eye. Magnetic ink preserves information, making it machine-readable.
  • Efficient Check Processing: Magnetic ink makes it easier and faster to process checks. Regardless of the number of checks a bank receives, it can handle all of them quickly and more efficiently. Thus, the bank can focus on other core functions instead of check processing.
  • Check Printing: If you have a business, you can use a magnetic ink printer to print checks for your organization. You can save money and reduce the likelihood of making errors on the checks. Besides, your checks are likely to get authenticate quickly once they get present to the bank.

Drawbacks of Magnetic Ink

Now that you know how to make magnetic ink, it’s important to learn about some of its disadvantages. The drawbacks of using MICR machines include the following:

  • Expensive: Printing documents with ink is an expensive data entry method. You must buy MICR font, check stock, magnetic ink, and specialized software to print your checks. Besides, you need a printer that can utilize magnetic toner, which costs money. If you receive checks in your business, you may also need a MICR reader.
  • Limited Character Recognition: MICR machines may not recognize all the alphabetical characters out there. The machines limited to ten digits and four special characters.
  • Prone to Errors: Magnetic ink printers are more likely to make errors, which may make your check unrecognizable by MICR readers. Besides, your fonts should meet the standards established by ANSI (American National Standards Institute).

Conclusion

With magnetic ink, you can print checks, vouchers, and other important documents in the comfort of your office on how to make magnetic ink at home if you have the right equipment. Alternatively, you can purchase manufactured ink from the store and use it in an appropriate printer to prepare your documents.

While magnetic ink helps improve the security of your documents, it can be expensive, especially when you’re just starting. You’ll save money if you can print your MICR documents in the long run. It’s even better if you can make printer-usable ink at home.

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About Tom

Tom is a blogger and artist who also loves technology. He spends his days blogging about the latest developments in the world of art, and he enjoys sharing his thoughts with readers on what it means to be an artist today. Tom has always been interested in technology - but it wasn't until he was 13 years old that he discovered how much fun making websites could be! Tom is a fun-loving, adventure seeking creative type. He enjoys reviewing art products and technology gadgets on his blog and has been doing so for over 5 years now! He spends most of his time in the studio, at the beach, or out exploring new places.

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