2D vs. 1D Barcode Scanning: A Quick Overview
Until recently, barcode scanning was limited to laser barcode scanners and one-dimensional (1D) barcodes. However, barcode imagers and two-dimensional (2D) barcodes are now revolutionizing data capture processes. They’ve unlocked a number of important new improvements and capabilities.
In this article, we’ll take a look at these advancements and why 2D barcodes and imagers, such as Zebra’s 3600 Ultra-Rugged scanner, are the ideal choice for virtually any scanning application.
How Do 1D and 2D Barcodes Differ?
Data Storage & Capacity
1D barcodes use variable-width lines and spaces to encode data. This linear approach limits data storage to only a few dozen characters, and the barcode gets longer as you add more data to it.
2D barcodes use patterns of squares, hexagons, dots, and other shapes to encode data. Data can be encoded vertically and horizontally, so 2D barcodes can hold more data in a much smaller space. In fact, they can hold hundreds of characters compared to only a few dozen with 1D barcodes.
Thanks to this added capacity, a 2D barcode can also store images, website URLs, voice data, and other binary data types. A 1D barcode, on the other hand, is limited to alphanumeric information only.
Ease of Scanning
The vertical and horizontal orientation of a 2D barcode means you can scan it at virtually any angle with an omnidirectional 2D imager. Zebra Technologies has helped pioneer 2D imaging with its DS3600 line of Ultra-Rugged scanners.
Omnidirectional 2D scanning is much more efficient than using a 1D barcode and laser imager, where you have to precisely line up a scanner’s laser with the barcode.
Database Independence vs. Dependence
1D barcodes are database-dependent. You need to scan each barcode and relate it to data in a database, such as matching a UPC symbol with a price in a checkout system. In contrast, a 2D barcode can hold not only significantly more data but also a variety of information types, so you don’t need to access a database to make use of the encoded information. You can store, scan, and retrieve all the data you need from the barcode itself.
The Rise of Barcode Imagers
Laser scanners have been the industry standard in barcoding for decades. But they can only scan 1D barcodes, and they require a laser to be horizontally aimed across a barcode’s black-and-white bars, using reflected light to read the pattern. If the aim is off, if there’s poor contrast, or if the barcode is poorly printed or damaged, you won’t get a positive read.
To address these issues, manufacturers such as Zebra have developed barcode imagers for reliable scanning of both 1D and 2D barcodes. Rather than use laser light and reflectivity, an imager takes a picture of a barcode. This means it can capture a barcode at any angle, in any direction, on any surface. It can even capture barcodes printed on a label, shown on a screen, or even displayed upside down or sideways.
In addition, imagers such as Zebra’s DS3600 line of Ultra-Rugged scanners have advanced scanning capabilities that capture barcodes even if they’re smudged, scratched, damaged, or poorly printed. They can also scan part marks, documents, form fields, and even signatures. The end result is first-time, every-time data capture that dramatically speeds up scanning and data processing, which you can convert into major improvements in operational efficiency.
Want Faster and More Efficient Barcode Scanning?
Contact ScanTexas now to learn more about the advantages of 2D barcode scanning. We’ll also tell you how you can trade in your qualifying Zebra and non-Zebra 1D scanners to get rebates of up to $25 per device when you upgrade to next-generation scanning.