2D Bar Code Basics

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Posted Mar 11, 2010 1:12:08 PM by DecisionPoint Team & filed under

There are two main categories that 2D bar codes fall into- stacked 2D codes and matrix 2D codes.

pdf4171Stacked 2D Codes

Stacked symbologies resemble a set of linear bar codes literally “stacked” on top of each other. The most common stacked symbology is PDF417, pictured at right.

data-matrix1Matrix 2D Codes

Matrix symbologies like the Data Matrix at right, are made up of a pattern of cells that can be square, hexagonal, or circular in shape. In most cases, matrix bar codes offer higher data densities than stacked bar codes.


Although different in many ways, the intent to encode more information in a smaller space is the same and so are the following benefits:

  • Capacity- 2D codes allow you to store more data in a smaller space than 1D codes
  • Portability- 2D codes don’t require database access for decoding, instead data travels with the item
  • Flexibility- compact matrix 2D codes can be read on curved surfaces
  • Increased efficiency- increased data capacity and flexibility make goods move more quickly
  • Emerging standards- new standards set the stage for millions of new products to be marked by 2D symbols in the coming years
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