micr toner

Advantage Laser Installs 21.8KW Solyndra Solar Array

Monday, January 11th, 2010 | Green Power | 7 Comments

Next week we begin installation of rooftop solar array on our MICR toner cartridge manufacturing facility in Atlanta, Georgia. The solar project has been broken into three arrays. We will start by installing Array #1 – a 21.8KW array that will produce 29,654 KW hours per year. This will only provide about 23% of the power we currently use. Once Arrays #2 and #3 are built the complete system will provide 70% of our power usage. Our goal will be to become power neutral meaning we produce 100% of the power we need. So after all 3 arrays are installed, we will have to decrease our power usage by 30% via increased efficiency e.g. LED lighting project (more on that later).
It Makes Environmental and Business Sense
The environmental benefits of solar power are obvious, the challenge is to operate as green as possible and still remain a viable business. I looked at solar a couple of years ago, but it was difficult to make the numbers work. The federal government was giving a 30% tax credit and the state (Georgia) had no incentive whatsoever. Several months ago Mark Bell with Empower contacted us about solar. He got us up to date on solar power legislation and incentives. Solar (green) power was included in the economic stimulus and recovery act of 2009. Now the federal government will pay the 30% as a grant up front and the state of Georgia will give an additional 35% tax credit towards a commercial solar installation. This made all the difference. The federal grant, means we don’t have to borrow as much money. The state also has a grant, but it is limited to $2.5 million and applications flooded the GEFA office. The rebate program was closed after just one day. So we’re going the tax credit route, which creates a challenge in itself. Sometimes I think the tax aspects of a solar array are much more complex than the technical ones. After calls to two accountants, the state and Empower, we determined the array would pay for itself in about five and a half years. Not bad, after that we’ll have an array with a 25 year life expectancy with free green power.
Solar Panels Made in the USA

Much of the solar PV (PhotoVoltaic) is dominated by China these days. We prefer to buy products made here in the USA when we can. Lucky for us, we have a white roof. Why should this matter? This allowed us to install a new innovative solar panel from Solyndra (made in Silicon Valley CA). Traditional PV uses a solid panel that is angled to the sun to maximize efficiency. But angled panel makes a great sail and therefore it requires a physical attachment and penetration through the roofing system or a heavy ballasting system.

Solyndra has a revolutionary solar panel that uses a series of tubes with space between them so that the wind passes right through them. The tubes on the Solyndra panel absorb the sunlight that is reflected off the white roof as well. The result is an array that can be installed in a fraction of the time and maximizes efficiency per square foot. The Solyndra panel costs about twice as much as a traditional panel, but the savings in installation time and mounting brackets make them come out about even. We are one of the first Solyndra customers in the Southeast for a technology that may revolutionize solar installations on many flat-roofed buildings.
Below is our rooftop layout of all 3 arrays. Array #1, on the far right, will be the first. Installation of all three was too much of a financial burden. Our goal is to install an array each year for the next 3 years.
Once Arrays 2 & 3 are complete, our system power will be a total of 65.9 KW producing 85,865 KW hours a year.

Selling Green Power vs. Decreasing Peak Load
As we harvest energy from the sun there are several ways to take advantage of it. One is to use the power ourselves with net metering. With net metering our meter “run backwards” when we’re producing more energy than we’re using. Otherwise it just slows down our meter. An advantage of net metering is we can use the solar array to decrease our peak load. Commercial customers are charged per KWH, but GA Power has incentives to business to smooth out their power usages by charging more, the higher your peak load. Each month a commercial business peak load rate is determined by the highest half hour power usage in the previous 11 months. The business about calculating peak load appears to be intentionally designed to be confusing. Empower has been working with us to see if they can decrease our peak load, and thus lower our overall price we pay per KWH.
Another option we have is to sell our “green” power to GA power through their Green energy buyback program. In this program, we take 100% of our green power and sell it to GA Power for $0.18 per KWH (about 4-5 cents per KWH than we pay for solar power). Right now GA Power’s green energy buyback is closed to new energy providers. The program is capped 1.5 Megawatts per year, which isn’t that much.
Increasing Efficiency
We are investigating a LED lighting project that would replace all of our existing florescent lights with new LED fixtures. Initial estimates indicate we would save about 15KW with the LED project. Empower is also consulting with us on the LED lighting project as well.
We are also replacing the largest two of our four HVAC units with new Trane High Efficiency units. We’ve also added rooftop motion detection and surveillance cameras. This will double to protect our solar array as well as our HVAC units from copper theft.

Installing a solar array has some exciting possibilities, but before you take the plunge, do the research. There is a lot to learn, especially about the tax code and what you can deduct and what you can’t. But in the end, if you have a long term perspective, investing in a solar array makes sense. Imagine the energy savings and decrease in air pollution that would be possible if every business with a roof filled them with solar panels.
I’ll be posting pictures of the array installation as I can. -Marvin Masson

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New Product P3015 MICR Toner CE255A CE255X

Friday, September 11th, 2009 | MICR Toner and Check Printing | 3 Comments

MICR Toner Cartridges for the HP LaserJet P3015, P3015d, P3015dn laser printers are here! We released the CE255A MICR and CE255X MICR toner cartridges on 9/1/09. So far we haven’t seen much action on this product as the supply of the P3015 is low. We were lucky to get an early release direct from HP. Once the supply opens up, we expect this to be a popular cartridge.

We also plan to sell a HP P3015 MICR Laser Printer once we can get our hands on a steady supply. This year, HP seems to have mis-timed the release of their new printers, as supply of the P4014n, P3005 were already exhausted before any replacement laser printers were available. We’ve been forced to find new suppliers to fulfill our orders for HP MICR Laser Printers.

We’re planning on releasing the Lexmark T650, T652, T654 MICR toner cartridge hopefully by October 1st.


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Density Settings and MICR Fonts for the HP P1005, P1006, P1505

Thursday, December 4th, 2008 | MICR Toner and Check Printing | 1 Comment

If you have one of the newer HP LaserJet printers, one thing you’ll notice is the TrueType MICR fonts can appear faint or have a thinner stroke than they should. This is not a toner problem, as as the image quality and density is fine, but rather a result in the way the newer printers render the font itself. If the MICR font doesn’t have the proper stroke width the signal strength of the characters will decrease. Low signal strength may cause your bank’s check scanners to reject them. This will result in your bank in having to manually encode each check. If this happens your bank will likely contact you about the problem. But you’ll need to get the problem fixed or the bank may assess an additional processing charge.

Document Testing is the Key – There are a couple of ways to fix this problem. But whatever you do, you really should have your checks analyzed to make sure the documents are good. If you buy from us, we offer this as a free service, as we want to make sure all of our customers are producing good MICR documents. So if you are unsure about your documents, just send us some voided documents and we’ll analyze them and call you back the day we receive them at no charge.
Increase Print Density – The easiest way to fix this problem is to adjust the print density of your laser printer. To do this, you’ll need to open the properties of your printer (start->Printers->right-click (your printer)->select properties), then select the Device Settings tab. Set the print density to 5 (the darkest) and you should be fine. Click here for a screen shot
Replace MICR Font with a Bolder One – The second way is to replace the font with a bolder MICR font. If you are using the Advangtage TrueType MICR font and have the ability, you can just bold it. In our test the bold version works perfectly on these printers. If you don’t have the ability to bold the font, another alternative is to replace the font with a bolder TrueType MICR Font. We only offer one version of our font, but if you need more flexibility here, try the ID Automation MICR font. It comes with 5 different boldnesses and 5 different widths, a total of 25 MICR font variations. Click here for the ID Automation MICR Font
So far we’ve observed these issues with the HP LaserJet P1005, P1006, P1505 laser printers. No matter what you do, be sure to send us a voided check so we can analyze it.

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Google is amazing!

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2008 | Miscellaneous | No Comments

I’m amazed at how Google has come from nowhere to become an everyday household name and a verb. When Google came out, it wasn’t long before people said, did you “Google” that? It was all over for yahoo. Even George Bush does “the Google“. 

Since Google search, Google has released hit after hit, the most recent Chrome a browser that will take on industry giant Microsoft IE8 head to head. Some of what Google has done has been expected, but they continue to think outside the box and come up with products that people never even knew they wanted or needed. I’m sure it helps that Google has more money than god, but still there are tons of huge corporations that never surprise us and never do anything unexpected. What makes Google different? Will they start selling Check Paper and MICR toner cartridges and put us out of business? Probably not, still one thing is for sure, I wouldn’t want to be the target of Google, because if you are, you probably won’t be in business for long. 

Google continues to churn out industry leading Internet software at a dizzying pace.

  • Google Earth – amazing
  • Google Checkout – definitely a great way to buy products without disseminating your personal information.
  • Google Picasa – what a great way to share your pictures
  • Gmail – best web mail out there
  • Google Desktop – great for searching your computer. I’m not a huge fan because it can bog your computer down.
  • Google News – A collection of news from the net
  • Google Chrome – still new, but already it’s replaced IE 7 and SlimBrowser for me
  • Google AdWords – The real money maker at google is the most effective way to reach targeted users out there. We spend 90% of our advertising on AdWords. And when someone searches for the key words we specify, they see our ads. Perfectly targeted!
  • Google Maps – again probably the best map software on the web, I love the new terrain feature.
  • Blogger – I’m using it right now, it’s great.
  • YouTube – Obviously the most used video sharing on the web
  • Analytics – If you are a webmaster, this is great stuff if you want to know about where your visitors come from and how they got there.
  • 800-Goog-411 – Great free 411 service that works better than regular 411.
  • The list goes on and on including Google Calendar, Orkut, Google Groups, etc…
In some cases like YouTube, where Google Video was not number one, Google just opened their wallet and bam, Google is number one once again.
Maybe its the environment that Google employees work in. Check out these pictures of the Google office in Europe. Nuts! But who wouldn’t want to work there. Who knows why Google is so damn good at whatever they put their mind to, but one thing is for sure, they aren’t done yet. Google is currently the 12th largest company in the world based on market capitizalization. With Apple Computer just ahead of them and Cisco just behind them. If google keeps it up, I won’t be suprised to see Google in the #1 spot some day.

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Weak dollar and high oil prices driving HP prices up

Friday, August 15th, 2008 | HP Toner, MICR Toner and Check Printing | No Comments
The weak dollar and high oil prices are conspiring to bring about price increased for HP toner cartridges. The weaker dollar automatically makes oil prices increase all on its own. You’ve seen inflation in everything at the grocery store from bread to beef, and now we are starting to see the results in our little corner of the world.
As I wrote a month ago, in the face of significant UPS fuel surcharges, we plan to continue to offer free shipping on our toner cartridges, but unfortunately it looks like HP is raising prices 5-6% on it’s toner and inkjet cartridges. We’ll have no choice but to pass the cost increase along to our customers. This will affect new HP Product as well as our Premium MICR Cartridges (New MICR). On the plus side, maybe this will be an incentive for our customers to switch to Advantage Brand toner cartridges (Remanufactured). Advantage Cartridges have the same quality and guarantee as new cartridges. And now there will be an even greater savings.

HP announced the price increase effective September 1st, but our suppliers have told us they will not actually increase the price until October 1st. So be warned, new pricing will be here by October 1. If you are a big HP toner user, I’d go ahead and make an extra big order before October comes around.

Here’s the HP price increase letter:


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Why don’t you make a MICR toner cartridge for my machine?

Wednesday, June 4th, 2008 | MICR Toner and Check Printing | No Comments

This is one of the most common questions we are asked. Many times it is asked in frustration and many times our answers leave people feeling empty inside. Ok, maybe not empty inside but companies who want to print checks also want to use the printer they already have.

If you aren’t using a Hewlett Packard or Lexmark monochrome printer, chances are there isn’t a MICR toner available for your machine. Supply and demand dictates where production dollars will be allocated for both the toner cartridge and consumable (cartridge, parts and loose toner) manufacturers. Since HP and Lexmark have a stranglehold on the laser printer industry, companies such as ours will spend money to produce a MICR toner cartridge for those very machines that saturate the market. This trickles down to the loose toner vendors, they too will not create a MICR toner powder for machines that don’t saturate the market.

All you need to do is dump some MICR toner into a cartridge!

I have been quietly to very loudly told this by many customers who think they understand the toner manufacturing industry. We wish it were that simple because it would have saved us a lot of time and money. It is far more sophisticated of a process to make a MICR toner cartridge because not every cartridge takes the same MICR toner. The component parts of a HP 4200 toner cartridge will not work with the MICR toner used in a HP 1100 cartridge and vice-versa. The component parts may also need to be manufactured specifically for MICR printing. There are even more variables that need to be considered, but it would be silly and equally boring to list them all.

So what do you do if you can’t find a MICR toner for your laser printer?

1. Research what MICR toners are available and then buy that machine
2. Buy pre-printed checks
3. Find a company that claims they can produce it.

Buyer Beware- if a company claims to produce a MICR toner for machines other than HP and Lexmark, research that company’s return policy and make sure they have a money back guarantee. We carry some MICR toners for laser printers outside of HP and Lexmark lines however they either have the same engine as a HP/ Lexmark machine or the demand at one point substantiated producing it.

Good luck and Happy Check Printing!


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