Commerce has come a long way from the bartering system. When currency became the acceptable medium of exchange, it only made sense that a better system of marking products was needed.
The first barcode was created in 1952, but they weren’t put into use in commerce and the transaction process until 1974, when a pack of Wrigley’s gum was scanned in a supermarket in the state of Ohio.
Barcodes have become widely used and have been upgraded and improved in an ongoing process. From the days when a barcode took up a significant amount of the packaging and contained limited information to today’s Data Matrix codes that are significantly smaller and can hold more data, the barcode development process has been fast and focused on efficiency.
Here we will focus on Data Matrix codes, their importance, their history, and an in-depth look at:
How they’re generated
How they differ from other marking processes
What industry these are most common in and on which type of materials and parts are they commonly found
Industry codes are used for a number of processes in the manufacturing industry, but perhaps the most critical application is part marking. Part marking can be used to identify and track parts within production systems and supply chains, and there are many different types of industry codes that can be used for this purpose.
DataMatrix is one of the most popular direct part marking codes, and it’s used extensively in government and military applications due to its high-security level. The code consists of two-dimensional symbols embedded with information about the product or part being marked. This code is also resistant to environmental hazards such as UV light or chemicals, making it well-suited for harsh work environments.
Metal part marking is one of the oldest and most reliable methods for identifying components in manufacturing processes. The process involves using laser engraving technology to mark metals with various symbols or text-based codes that help identify the component being marked. Metal part marking can be done quickly and accurately, making it an ideal solution for businesses looking for an efficient way to label their parts or products.
5 Common Code Types
Metal part marking using certain code types is highly accurate, making it a reliable way to identify components for various manufacturing applications. Examples of those code types include serial numbers, which provide a way to quickly identify parts in manufacturing processes, while QR codes and DataMatrix codes offer more detailed information such as product specifications or assembly instructions.
They can also be used to track products through the supply chain or store other types of data like part or product expiration dates. These are among the most common code types used in manufacturing:
1. Serial Numbers
Serial numbers are a popular type of code used in metal part marking. Serial numbers provide a means of tracking individual components, allowing manufacturing companies to monitor and control production lines more effectively.
They also allow for increased traceability and accountability, as each component can be easily identified at any time during the manufacturing process. Additionally, serial numbers allow for easy inventory management, ensuring that components are properly tracked from procurement to delivery. With serial numbers, businesses can better manage their stock levels and reduce waste by proactively addressing potential issues before they become problems.
Barcodes are commonly used to provide identification for individual components manufactured by businesses. Much like serial numbers, barcodes provide a means of tracking components, allowing companies to monitor and control production lines more effectively. In addition to traceability and accountability, barcodes also provide an efficient solution for inventory management.
Businesses can easily scan barcodes to keep accurate records of their stock levels with minimal effort. Barcodes are most commonly used in the retail industry where they are scanned at the point of sale in order to easily record and manage the sale of items. They are also widely used in many other industries such as manufacturing, warehousing, and distribution operations.
3. QR codes
QR codes are similar to barcodes but with the added benefit of storing more information. They can easily be scanned by most smartphones, making them a popular tool for marketing, product tracking, and customer engagement. QR codes are typically used for product labeling and tracking in supply chain operations. Businesses also commonly use them as a form of digital identification for their products, allowing customers to retrieve information about the item they are looking at quickly.
QR codes provide an efficient way for companies to track their products and keep accurate records while providing customers with an easy-to-use tool to access additional information about their purchases. Additionally, many consumer products are now marked with a unique QR code which allows companies to better track individual items through their entire lifecycle.
4. UID marking (Unique Identification)
UID marking, also known as Unique Identification, is an alternative to QR codes typically used in industrial and manufacturing applications. UIDs are encoded with a unique string of information that can be used to identify individual items or components within a larger production process.
This allows manufacturers to quickly and accurately track the lifecycle of their product during production, shipping, and ultimately in retail stores. In addition to providing accurate tracking of products throughout their lifespan, UID marking also offers companies the ability to access valuable data such as production date, batch code, expiration date and more. This information can then be used by companies for quality assurance purposes or for other analytics purposes.
5. DataMatrix codes
DataMatrix codes are a popular type of UID technology used in industrial and manufacturing applications. They are two-dimensional barcodes that contain encoded information regarding the product, such as production date, batch code, and expiration date.
DataMatrix codes can hold much more data than traditional linear bar codes, making it possible to identify individual items or components within a larger production process with greater accuracy. Additionally, these codes are significantly smaller than other UID types and can be read quickly, making them ideal for high-speed scanning operations.
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Understanding DataMatrix Code
DataMatrix codes are composed of two distinct components: the data and the error correction. The data component is a string of characters that contain information relevant to the product or item that it is associated with. This information can range from production date, to batch code and expiration date.
The error correction component, known as Error Correction Code or ECC, is used to detect any errors in the DataMatrix code, which makes it possible for scanners and other readers to still accurately read and interpret the code even if portions of it have been damaged or altered. The code is also capable of encoding a range of different data types such as numbers, text, URLs, images, and binary data.
This combination of data and error correction makes DataMatrix codes an ideal choice for UID technology in industrial and manufacturing applications. Their small size makes them easy to store while their ability to hold large amounts of data enables them to track complex production processes with greater accuracy than traditional linear bar codes. Furthermore, they can be read quickly, making them suitable for high-speed scanning operations.
DataMatrix codes are two-dimensional symbols made up of square and hexagonal modules arranged in a pattern. They can hold up to 2,335 alphanumeric characters and can be read from any direction.
DataMatrix codes are most commonly used in the automotive industry to track parts and components through the entire production process. They have also been seen in other industries such as aerospace and medical device engineering. In each of these cases, they provide detailed analytics on products throughout their lifespan and enable manufacturers to maintain accurate records of each part or component produced. The Difference Between DataMatrix Code and QR Code DataMatrix codes have unique shapes and sizes compared to standard barcodes and QR codes. While typical barcodes and QR codes are rectangular in shape, DataMatrix codes come in both square and circular designs. This makes them easy to distinguish from traditional barcodes and QR codes at a quick glance.
DataMatrix codes also offer better security than other types of industry coding systems due to their increased data capacity and ability to encode binary data. This makes it easier for malicious actors to decipher encoded information with the correct decryption key.
DataMatrix codes have numerous advantages over other types of coding systems. Their increased data capacity, unique shapes and sizes, and ability to encode binary data make them particularly secure against malicious actors attempting to access the encoded information. Their Error Correction Code (ECC) allows them to be scanned even if portions of the code are missing or damaged.
On the other hand, due to their increased complexity compared to standard barcodes and QR codes, DataMatrix codes require more specialized knowledge and technology for both encoding and decoding. This can lead to higher costs associated with the implementation and maintenance of the coding system.
In addition, DataMatrix codes are not as widely used as traditional barcodes and QR codes, which means that they may not be compatible with existing scanning hardware in many locations.
Best Practices for Direct Part Marking
When it comes to Direct Part Marking, proper placement and sizing of DataMatrix codes are essential for accurate scanning. In order to ensure that scanners are able to read the codes quickly and accurately, they should be placed in areas with minimal background interference.
The size of the code should be appropriate for the type of scanner being used – a code that is too small can be difficult to scan accurately. It’s important to make sure that the code is large enough so that when scanned, all of the encoded information can be captured in one pass.
It is also important to consider the durability of the code itself. DataMatrix codes are designed for applications in harsh environments, but it is still important to use a material that will resist damage from abrasion, chemicals, and extreme temperatures.
It’s also important to make sure that any direct part marking ink or other material used can withstand these conditions too. Additionally, proper application of the code is essential for readability – it must be applied correctly and completely for scanners to read it accurately.
Direct Part Marking | Navigating the Options Effectively
Direct part marking is a critical component of manufacturing processes, and it is important to understand the differences between various types of codes, including DataMatrix codes.
It’s essential to ensure the code size and material are appropriate for its intended environment, and that it is properly applied for accurate scanning. With these components in place, DataMatrix codes can provide a reliable means of identification and tracking in harsh environments.
Iron Out Your Part Marking Concerns with Technomark
Still have questions about the right code or marking approach for your product line? Consider this resource:
In today’s fast-paced industrial landscape, precision is not just a luxury—it’s a necessity. Laser marking technology, heralded for its unparalleled accuracy and versatility, has revolutionized industries from aerospace to consumer electronics.
As with any technological innovation, there are choices to navigate. Among the most debated is the match-up between Fiber Lasers and CO2 Lasers. Both come with their own set of advantages, applications, and intricacies.
Fiber Lasers: The Contender
Fiber lasers are high-powered, solid-state laser sources that produce focused beams of light for cutting and welding applications. These lasers are constructed from doped optical fibers as the gain medium. The light is generated by pumping a seed laser beam through an optical fiber with amplifying material inside, which then passes through a series of optical mirrors before emerging at the other end at a much higher power than when it was inputted.
Fiber lasers provide a number of advantages over traditional CO2 lasers, such as:
Lower maintenance costs
More energy efficiency.
With their ability to deliver consistent results at fast speeds with minimal waste and downtime, fiber lasers have become the technology of choice for many industrial applications.
Fiber lasers also offer greater efficiency than other laser technologies due to their wavelength-specific operation and ability to generate high power in a short amount of time. They are relatively low maintenance compared to other laser systems, making them an economical choice for many applications.
The versatility of fiber lasers makes them ideal for many different applications such as cutting thin metal sheets in automotive parts manufacturing or welding complex shapes in medical devices. They can also be used for marking materials including plastics and metals.
Furthermore, fiber lasers are becoming increasingly popular as they can be used with a wide range of materials and offer very fast processing speeds. This makes them an ideal solution for industries such as automotive, medical device manufacturing, and electronics. Fiber lasers are also becoming increasingly used in the printing industry for fine engraving and marking applications.
Fiber Laser Applications in the Automotive Industry
Fiber laser applications span multiple industries due to their high energy efficiency and precision. In the automotive industry, fiber lasers are used to mark parts with serial numbers, ensuring traceability throughout the part’s life cycle.
CO2 Lasers: The Challenger
CO2 lasers are a type of laser that uses carbon dioxide gas to generate a beam of light with a wavelength in the infrared range. The beam emitted from a CO2 laser has a high level of accuracy and can be used to produce detailed designs with complex shapes. It can also be used to cut and engrave intricate patterns on many different types of materials.
The power of the beam also allows for faster cutting speeds than those achievable with other technologies, making it ideal for precision applications that require quick turnaround times. Because the beam is relatively broad, it is easier to cover larger areas at a speed that would otherwise be impossible with conventional methods.
CO2 lasers are well known for their relatively low cost and versatility. They can also have higher power outputs than other types of lasers while still being able to cut through tougher materials like steel. CO2 lasers have been used in a variety of industries, from woodworking to metal fabrication and even medical fields. In the woodworking field, CO2 lasers are often used for engraving and cutting. For example, they can be used to engrave intricate designs on furniture or to cut out pieces of wood with precise measurements.
Real-world examples of CO2 laser applications
CO2 lasers are used to cut and engrave a wide range of materials, including wood, plastics, leather, glass, paper, and metals. Additionally, CO2 lasers can be used to cut or mill three-dimensional shapes from hard materials such as steel and aluminum.
In the automotive industry, CO2 lasers are used for cutting sheet metal with high precision and accuracy. For example, many car body parts like doors and engine covers are now produced using CO2 laser-cutting machines. In addition to precision cutting of metal sheets, CO2 lasers can also weld thin sheets together to form more complex structures.
Moreover, CO2 lasers are becoming increasingly popular in medical treatments such as:
They are more precise than traditional methods because their beams can target certain areas without damaging surrounding tissue.
Fiber Lasers & CO2 Lasers: Head-to-Head
While both types of laser technology offer similar power and precision, the efficiency of fiber laser machines is far superior. Fiber lasers can produce the same output as a CO2 laser with exponentially lower energy consumption and heat production.
Fiber lasers use up to 50% less electricity than their CO2 counterparts. Additionally, fiber lasers require much less maintenance, meaning fewer technical personnel and resources are needed for upkeep. This makes them ideal for industrial production environments where cost-effectiveness is a priority.
Fiber lasers offer a higher level of precision than CO2 lasers, making them more suitable for applications such as fine cutting in medical devices or intricate patterns on jewelry. The combination of high precision and low energy usage makes fiber lasers the preferred option for many industries.
In addition to their precise nature, fiber lasers also allow for faster cut speeds than CO2 lasers. This means that when it comes to completing large-scale projects quickly and accurately, fiber lasers are often the way to go.
Fiber Lasers vs. CO2 Lasers: The Bottom Line
CO2 lasers often produce higher power outputs than fiber lasers, making them ideal for applications that require cutting through hard materials such as metals. Fiber lasers typically are faster and are more energy efficient than CO2 lasers, making them ideal for precision machining and engraving.
When selecting the right laser for your needs, it is important to consider the output power requirements of the project, cost considerations, maintenance requirements, and any industry-specific considerations. It is also beneficial to consult with experienced experts to determine the best choice based on the specific application.
Technomark Knows Lasers: How to Learn More
Laser marking can be the most efficient method for part marking and traceability. If you’re looking for further details, consider downloading this resource:
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