Data Matrix Reader - The best solution for small items

May 15, 2020

Over the past decades, various types of barcodes have emerged, all of them offering advantages for specific purposes. Data matrix codes have become the preferred solution for handling small industrial goods, as they can store relatively large amounts of data in a small space. Learn more about Data Matrix bar codes, their use cases, and the advantages of implementing a Data Matrix Scanner SDK in your mobile application.

What is a DataMatrix Code?

First, we would like to take a look at some facts and figures about the DataMatrix barcode. After its introduction in 1987, it became an ISO/IEC standard in 2000 and received the ISO/IEC 16022 certification. Consisting of a pixel matrix with an L-shaped border as a marker (usually in the left corner), the code can store up to 2335 numeric or 3116 alphanumeric characters. This corresponds to about 1.5 DIN A4 pages.

Data Matrix: Striking benefits

The Data Matrix barcode and scanner offers a variety of essential benefits. Despite its relatively high data density, it requires very little space, starting from 2.5mm x 2.5mm. Therefore, it's an ideal solution for small industrial items, such as electronic components or surgical instruments. Additionally, it can be read even when one or more cells are damaged, making it a robust solution for various application purposes, such as letters or parcels.

The possibility to engrave the Data Matrix barcode permanently is one of the most prominent benefits of this barcode-type. This procedure is referred to as Direct Part Marking (DPM) and can be applied using laser engraving or dot peen markers.

Data Matrix Barcodes can be either read by using a hardware-scanner, or by using a digital camera. Since 2D-barcodes should ideally be scanned with the help of a digital camera, implementing a Data Matrix SDK into your existing mobile app turns out to be the most feasible solution. 

While scanning the Data Matrix barcode with a camera, it can be recognized from any angle, as long as it’s located in the camera window, while the required contrast ratio is only at around 20%. The use of a smartphone with its own network connection and long-lasting battery makes the scanner independent of other hardware and highly cost-efficient.

What are the differences between 1D and 2D barcodes?

Which advantages does the Data Matrix Barcode offer? 

Data Matrix Code

The L-shaped border identifies a Data Matrix code

What are possible use-cases of the Data Matrix Barcode?

Data Matrix SDK

In the aerospace, automotive, and electronics industries, quality assurance is an important aspect. Tracing back each component is a high priority to detect problems in production and prevent accidents. Here you benefit from the Data Matrix code’s small size and the direct part marking (DPM) mentioned previously. Even the most miniature objects can thus be easily identified and traced. Workshops can scan codes on installed components, order the correct spare part, and report the manufacturer’s defect. The manufacturer can then determine the batch in which the item was produced precisely and determine the source and frequency of the defects.

In the healthcare industry, medication-related information such as the product identification code, serial number, expiration date, and batch number can be easily embedded in the Data Matrix GS1 substandard. This type of code allows the addition of more than one data field within a barcode to store different data sets. This is shown in the following example:

GS1 Data Matrix
If you have too much data, Data Matrix codes can be stacked easily

📌 Interestingly, one of the first organizations to use Data Matrix codes was NASA in the 1980s. They engraved Data Matrix into parts of space rockets. Because this type of code could not be detached or wear off, it proved to be the most reliable option. The US Electronic Industries Alliance (EIA) also recommends using Data-Matrix for marking small electronic components.

Hardware scanner or smartphone? 

As mentioned above, Data Matrix Codes can be read with camera scanners and smartphones or tablets. All these devices are also suitable for scanning regular barcodes, making them multifunctional tools. However, camera scanners are much more expensive to purchase than smartphones with a proprietary app, including a 1D and 2D barcode scanner SDK. Such a Software Development Kit can be integrated within a few business days and is as easy to use as standard scanners. On top of that, the information can be viewed directly on the smartphone and forwarded to the back-end within seconds with no external computer needed.

📌 You want to experience our Barcode Scanner in action? Try our free SDK demo app.

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