Data Matrix code from Siemens is one of the widely-used two-dimensional or 2-D barcodes symbologies. A high-density barcode, Data Matrix consists of white and black square modules or cells arranged in a matrix, representing either text or raw data. The design shows rows and columns in even numbers that digitally carry information with a theoretical density of 500 million characters per inch. The increasing use of Data Matrix, also known as Semacode, is mainly due to its ability to "carry" data even without access to the data center.
ECC 200, the latest Data Matrix barcodes are produced using laser printers. It has a system for built in error checking as well as correction technique that enables scanners to accurately read even partially damaged symbols.
Data Matrix barcodes, because of its minimum size, are usually used for especially small items which has no space for bigger barcodes. The symbol can be as small as 0.001-inch square and as big as 14-inch square with a theoretical density of 500 million characters per inch. A tiny 2 to 3 mm square can hold data of about 50 characters. Data Matrix barcodes can hold between 1 to approximately 2000 characters This capability enables the inclusion of unique product identification as well as tracking status of the product in various stages of the manufacturing process, together with the sales path up to the after-sale warranty stages.
Among the essential information that a Data Matrix barcode can store are identity details such as the serial number, the part number and the manufacturer's ID. Such details provide better traceability and restrict the proliferation of counterfeit business. Traceability is also required in companies certified to comply to certain quality systems that they have to maintain.
Its ability to provide traceability to all materials and processes makes Data Matrix one of the top choices of the U.S. Department of Defense for its high security applications used to identify some of its procured assets. In addition, Data Matrix codes are also utilized in the aerospace parts industry , as well as in weapons and components as required by Military Standard 130.
Extremely popular in Europe and the U.S., Data Matrix codes are also for laser and direct part marking. The barcode is also widely used in the electronics and automotive industries, mobile marketing, postal services, health services and in document management applications.
One advantage of Data Matrix barcodes is that it can be read even if its contrast ratio is only twenty percent unlike other barcodes. However, special scanners are needed to read and decode data matrix barcodes. Scanners for linear barcode cannot decode the data stored in Data Matrix barcodes. They need CCD camera or laser scanners. With the right scanners, Data Matrix barcode with poor resolution can still be read without problems unlike other barcodes.
Considered the most reliable of barcode symbologies, Data Matrix is also recognized as the smallest. Compared to other popular symbologies, Data Matrix is 30 times smaller compared to another barcode containing the same quantity of information, like the Code 39 barcode.