Barcodes are divided into two main types: one dimensional (1D) and two dimensional (2D).
What Types of Barcode Symbologies are there?
1D and 2D Symbologies do differ and therefore support different types and amounts of data. The type of barcode that is being used in the application environment will impact the type of scanner that is needed to read it.
1D Symbologies encode data horizontally along the barcode and can store a limited amount of information (around 85 characters maximum but typically much less, depending on the code type). As more data is encoded, the barcode becomes wider.
1D Barcode Symbology examples include UPC-A (Data capacity of 12 numeric digits - 11 user specified and 1 check digit), UPC-E (Data Capacity of 7 numeric digits - 6 user specified and 1 check digit), Code 128 (Variable length alphanumeric data) and I 2 of 5 (Variable length numeric data).
2D Symbologies have a two-dimensional way of representing data – both horizontally and vertically – and can store a greater amount of information (hundreds of characters), in a much smaller space, compared to a 1D code. As more data is encoded, the size of the barcode can be increased in both the horizontal and vertical directions, thus maintaining a manageable shape for easy scanning. To properly decode the data, a scanner must read the entire symbol, in both dimensions.
Examples include Data Matrix (Consists of any type of data including binary or alphanumeric and be up to 3116 bytes in length), Aztec (Consists of any type of data including binary or alphanumeric and be up to 3750 bytes in length), Maxicode (Holds up to 93 alphanumeric characters or 138 numeric digits) and QR Code (Consist of any type of data including binary or alphanumeric and be up to 7089 bytes in length).
Determining the best barcode symbology depends on the type and amount of data required, and the marking space available. The same symbology is not required for all items, because barcode scanners can recognize and decode multiple barcode formats.
Below is an overview of the main symbologies:
GS1 Databar Codes
The GS1 Databar family consists of 1D Codes and are commonly used to label fresh foods. The type of data commonly encoded includes information such as an item’s batch number or expiration date, or item weight.
UPC & EAN (Universal Product Code / European Article Number)