Datamatrix codes are usually used to label small items, goods and documents. Their tiny footprint makes them ideal for small products in logistics and operations. In fact, the U.S. Electronic Industries Alliance (EIA) recommends that they be used to label small electronic components. Similar to QR codes, they have high fault tolerance and fast readability.
Datamatrix codes offer high data density, which means they take up less space on products and assets. They’re also designed to be readable even in low resolution or with unideal scanning positions. Like many other 2D barcodes, Datamatrix codes offer strong fault tolerance as well.
Data Matrix code consists of 4 main components:
Data area: This area contains the data in codified form.
Closed limitation line: This is the corner that is represented in normal alignment to the left and below the data area with an uninterrupted line. Based on this, the code and its alignment is recognized while scanning.
Open borderline: This is the opposite corner of the “closed limitation line”. These lines (above and to the right) consist of alternating black and white dots. These are used to the determination of lines and columns while scanning.
Quiet zone: This area surrounds the code. This area must be at least so wide as one dot of the code.
Data Matrix is used for encoding large amounts of data, it is mainly used in Europe and in the United States. The dominating application areas are direct part marking and laser marking – both especially in the aerospace, electronic, and automotive industry. In addition Data Matrix is used for general logistic purposes, document management applications, postal services (digital stamps for the Deutsche Post, Premiumadress Service), and medical / health industry related applications (HIBC).
Starting with 2006/2007 the use of the Data Matrix barcode is also spreading in the area of mobile marketing, in such applications the Data Matrix barcode is also known under the name SemaCode. In a mobile marketing scenario a Data Matrix symbol is printed or displayed on products or marketing related materials (e.g. displays, magazines, and even web-pages). A user can now scan or decode this Data Matrix using a mobile phone with a built-in camera and suitable decoder software. After decoding the Data Matrix barcode symbol the user is forwarded to marketing or product related web-sites and blogs.
Because of its technical advantages the GS1 organization considered the DataMatrix 2D barcode symbology for its system.
The so called GS1 or EAN Data Matrix is a standard DataMatrix symbol (ECC 200) with an internal GS1 identifier in the data structure (like the FNC1-Prefix in an GS1-128). The use of Application Identifiers is supported, this is comparable to the linear barcode GS1-128/EAN-128 or GS1 DataBar Expanded, where a code word similar to FNC1 acts as a field separator.
The GS1-DataMatrix is used for goods and palettes in commerce and industry.
There can be coded more than one data field inside one barcode. For example a food palette gets a barcode with the product number (e.g. the EAN 13 number) and additional the weight and the pull date.
To code this different data field inside one barcode the GS1-DataMatrix codes use the international standard of Application Identifiers (AI). A barcode could look like this:
The numbers inside the brackets are the Application Identifiers (AI) and the data behind are the data for this AI. The brackets are only used for the human readable line of the barcode. There are not coded! The AI “(01)” defines that the product code follows. This product code is always 14 digits long. This length is specified with the AI. This 14 data digits follow directly to the AI. After the product code of 14 digits, the next AI follows. In this example it’s the pull date, specified with the AI “(15)”. This one is always 6 digits long and must be specified using the mask YYMMTT. In this example the date is 31st December 2005
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