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1D and 2D barcodes

There are two major types of barcodes distributed across the world known as one dimensional barcodes and two dimensional barcodes. Deciding which to use depends on various factors, like amount of data to store and size of the product(s) in question. In certain situations, a combination of both 1D and 2D barcodes may be more efficient.

1D barcodes

One dimensional (1D) barcodes are also referred to as linear barcodes, first generation barcodes, or UPC barcodes. 1D barcodes make a certain pattern with black vertical lines set at specific widths to represent data. They are traditionally the most recognized type of barcode. Examples of popular barcodes that form part of the 1D barcode category include: UPC code, EAN code, Code 39, Code 128, ITF, PZN, Telepen barcode, Patch Code, Code 93, Codabar barcode, Numly barcode, and Optical Product Code.

Pros and Cons of 1D Barcodes

Linear barcodes consist of simple one directional coding and decoding. One dimensional barcodes are easy to scan and generate, which implies inexpensive software and hardware. The drawback to the 1D barcode’s simplicity is the smaller storage data available compared to a 2D barcode. A 1D barcode must also remain intact, with no damage or distortion in order to be scanned correctly and the data secured. Modification of a barcode, intentionally or accidentally, will lead to unreadable data. 1D Barcodes require active connectivity to a central database in order to expel the correct information for each product. Any inexpensive laser scanner or a newer camera-based imaging scanner can read 1D barcodes.

2D barcodes

2D barcode formats can store information both vertically and horizontally, thus the name, making it more complex than 1D barcodes. Due to their two-way storage ability, 2D barcodes can retain a greater amount of data in a matrix or stack form. Two-dimensional barcodes are usually rectangular or square and contain numerous individual dots, squares, hexagons, or other shapes with encoded data. They have become increasingly popular across the globe, especially in mobile marketing. Examples of 2D barcode formats include Data Matrix, Maxi Code, Aztec Barcode, MICR E-13B, QR Code, PDF17, Codablock F Barcode, and Code 16K.

Pros and Cons of 2D barcodes

2D barcodes have more positives than negatives. Labels with a 2D barcode format can be smaller and possess the potential to encode alphanumeric data and binary data, such as images and website addresses. The encoded information is typically protected and available even after 2D barcodes undergo substantial damage. This benefit alone can sometimes be enough to determine if 1D or 2D barcodes are right for a particular industry. These types of barcodes are used for circuit boards and surgical instruments because they can be etched to or permanently marked onto the surface of tiny instruments. 2D barcodes require camera-based imaging scanners, which are more expensive than the traditional laser scanners. Scanning 2D barcodes allows for faster access to the encoded data than first generation barcodes; 2D barcodes may be referred to as Quick Access barcodes for this reason.

Other Differences Between 1D and 2D Barcodes

The need for an updated version of 1D barcodes gave rise to the 2D barcodes. In other words, the 2D barcode was created with the sole purpose of being a step further than the older technology. To differentiate the two distinct types of barcodes, the 2D barcode was not created using vertical white and black parallel, equally spaced bars. Rather, a pattern of different shapes is utilized to encrypt and store information within the barcode. This deviation from the initial design is what allows the 2D barcode the ability to store more information than the traditional 1D barcode. Therefore, a typical 2D barcode can store encoded characters of the order of 2,000. This amount is high when compared with that of the 1D barcode, which can store only 85 characters.

If a user intends to store information in a numeric form within a barcode, such information must be encrypted using a 1D barcode. Data in numeric form cannot be stored in all types of 2D barcodes. The data matrix barcode is one of the few types of 2D barcodes that can store numeric data. In most cases, 2D barcodes can only encode alphanumeric data.

The encoding process of a 1D barcode is fast and readily completed. 1D barcodes that are printed must not be clear and can be easily read from a considerable amount of distance. With the 2D barcode, the code making process is slightly more complicated. Additionally, a new generation of scanners with optical recognition can find it difficult to quickly scan 2D barcodes.

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