One of the topics that I find myself explaining to customers from time to time is what a dimensional barcode means, usually in reference to 1D vs. 2D barcodes. One dimensional, two dimensional, even three dimensional barcodes exist and hopefully this post will give you a clear idea of the differences between them.
1D barcodes are also called linear barcodes because they consist of lines (or bars) and spaces. All barcode scanners can read 1D barcodes. They are ideal for storing relatively short strings of alpha and/or numeric data. They store data across the horizontal axis/dimension only, hence 1D. All things being equal, as you add more data to a 1D barcode, it gets wider. At a certain point, it simply gets too wide to remain in the focal range of a barcode scanner.
2D barcodes were born of the need to encode more data. Like 1D barcodes, there are many different types (or symbologies) of barcodes. The differences are more obvious in 2D codes because of the nature of 2D symbologies. They are composed of a group of geometric shapes that reside in a specified area also known as a matrix code. All of these shapes form a pattern and you have to have a picture of the entire pattern because the data is encoded both across the horizontal and the vertical dimensions, hence 2D.
2D barcode scanners are called imagers because they actually capture an image. They use the same technology as digital cameras, except the image sensors (CCD or Charge-Coupled Device) are optimized to read black and white barcodes, so they don’t take color images. You can read both 2D and 1D/linear barcode images with a 2D barcode imager.
3D barcodes refer to DPM (Direct Part Marking) barcodes. DPM barcodes can be etched, peened, engraved, molded, cast, etc. 3D readers use a combination of a laser and a CCD. The laser is reflected off the barcode at an angle to determine the height differences across the barcode. 3D barcodes can be linear or matrix. Their defining feature is the lack of color contrast in favor of height contrast.
I hope this post helped explain the differences between each type of dimensional barcode. Keep in mind that whatever barcode solution you’re looking for, L-Tron is here to help. Give us a call to discuss your upcoming projects.