Know About the Difference between Linear (1D) and 2D Barcodes

Barcodes have helped businesses streamline their business processes, improve workforce productivity, and achieve greater operational efficiency. Barcodes have been successfully integrated in business processes across various industries to increase their effectiveness, speed, and accuracy for better a customer experience. Barcodes are mainly categorized into two types: Linear or 1D barcodes and 2D barcodes. Each barcode type is selected as per relevant business requirements to fulfill the end objective. A barcode system consists of a scanner, a barcode label, a printer, and an external database.

Linear Barcodes:
Linear or 1D barcodes consists of parallel black bars and white spaces that can represent any form of data. UPC, Code 128, and Code 39 are some of the common 1D symbologies presently used.

Stores data only in horizontal direction
The bars and spaces in linear barcodes are grouped together to represent a specific ASCII character or a numeric digit. As the linear barcodes contains only vertical bars and spaces, the data can be stored only in horizontal direction. Even while reading the data from linear barcodes only the width of the bars and spaces is considered. Thus, linear barcodes are also referred as one-dimensional barcodes.

Stores much less data
Linear or 1D barcodes store a smaller amount of data, usually up to 12 or 20 digits. The linear or 1D barcodes contain information, which when scanned is matched with relevant data stored in local or central database leading to retrieval of a large amount of information about the item scanned.

Cannot retrieve data when erased or damaged
One of the drawbacks of linear barcodes is that it is difficult to retrieve stored data when the barcode label is damaged or poorly printed. Addition of a single extra line at the start or end of barcode can impair the readability of the linear barcode. A small tear or drawing a line through the barcode parallel to bars can disturb the decoding algorithm that makes it difficult to retrieve or read data.

2D Barcodes:
Two-dimensional barcodes have more data representation capability and can contain more detailed information. 2D barcodes can be in a matrix or stacked format. Stacked-barcodes are like a set of linear barcodes literally stacked on top of each other. PDF417 is the best example of a stacked barcode. Matrix codes are made up of a pattern of cells that can be square, hexagonal, or circular in shape and are similar in appearance to checkerboards. Data Matrix and MaxiCode are two commonly used matrix barcodes.

Store data in horizontal and vertical direction
Two-dimensional barcodes have larger data storage capacity as the data is stored in both horizontal and vertical directions of the barcode. In contrast to the 12-20 characters that a typical linear barcode can store, 2D symbologies are able to encode up to several thousand characters of machine readable data.

Stores large data
The amount of data that can be stored in 2D barcodes can reach up to thousands of alphanumeric data. The 2D barcodes ensure faster data processing as it can act as a database itself storing all the necessary data. They can condense the information from numerous linear barcodes into a single 2D barcode thus saving considerable space. The need to have external database is eliminated as accurate information can be received from the product itself. By providing immediate access to large stored data, 2D barcodes can make business process faster, accurate, less costly, and reliable.

Easy to retrieve data when erased or damaged
Unlike 1D barcodes, 2D barcodes can have error correction formulas built into the symbol which allow data to be retrieved even if the barcode is damaged. In fact, a significant portion of the surface area can be damaged and the information will still be intact. For example, some 2D symbols can lose up to a third of its surface and still be decoded. The Error Correction Code (ECC) has ability to rebuild the data from sections of barcode that has been damaged and deliver consistent correct information. Also, 2D barcodes printed on hard surfaces exposed to rugged or harsh conditions can be easily read by 2D barcode scanners.

Both 1D and 2D barcodes ensure functional enhancement of business process, efficient automated data collection, and processing of large amounts of data with accuracy across any industry. There are a number of factors to consider, like symbology compliance to industry specific standards, amount and type of data to be encoded, etc., before deciding on which type of symbology to use.

For over 20 years, System ID has provided automation solutions and barcoding equipment to a wide range of large and small companies in virtually every industry sector. System ID offers more than 10,000 brand name products and services such as symbol barcode scanner and zebra printers.

Related Articles:

Leave your feedback

You should log-in to leave comments.