If you’ve ever opened a new electronic device, tool, or home appliance, chances are you’ve seen a Data Matrix code.
While you may have thought it was a QR code, Data Matrix codes are an essential part of most manufacturing processes and act as an efficient means for component traceability. Data Matrix codes are also the only 2D barcode to have GS1 approval for regulated healthcare items.
QR codes on the other hand are larger and contain more data, such as website URLs, and are capable of encoding information not just in numeric and alphanumeric form, but also in Kanji and other multi-byte character sets.
No matter what industry, when it comes to industrial traceability for manufacturers, choosing the right type of code can leave a production run riddled with misinformation and the chance of getting lost.
Let’s break down the differences and similarities between QR and Data Matrix codes and why the latter is the preferred choice of the majority of manufacturers.
Direct Part Marking | QR vs Data Matrix Codes
While both QR and Data Matrix codes are in the public domain and can be used royalty free, Data Matrix codes have become the standard for anti-counterfeit measures, part identification, and internal tracking because they feature advanced error-correcting techniques that are more robust than QR codes.
This presents a unique benefit for manufacturers that need to ensure their products can be identified if part of the mark gets damaged or impeded.
Particularly necessary for complex and high stakes industries such as medical, aerospace, and defense, where hundreds to thousands of components are needed in order to assemble a finished product, Data Matrix codes can be read even if up to 50% of the mark gets damaged.
QR codes on the other hand have steadily been adopted in consumer-facing applications. These codes can be found everywhere from business cards to product packaging, containing links to websites, resumes, premium offers, and even restaurant menus.
QR codes have a lower level error-correcting built in, and can be rendered useless with even slight ware and tare. Just 30% of a QR code needs to be damaged before it becomes unreadable.
While these codes are perfect for consumer-forward use, marking a component or part with a QR code presents a real danger for misidentification pending the mark gets damaged.
Data Matrix vs QR Codes | Uses Cases and Applications
Specifications of Data Matrix vs QR Codes
While Data Matrix codes are typically reserved for industrial use cases, both types of marks can play a role in the manufacturing industry.
Since both DataMatrix and QR codes are GS1 approved, they can carry any GS1 ID keys including:
|Used to Identify||Example|
|Products and services||Can of soup, chocolate bar, music album|
|Parties and locations|
Companies, warehouses, factories, stores
|Global Returnable Asset Identifier (GRAI)||Returnable assets|
Pallet cases, crates, totes
|Assets||Medical, manufacturing, transport and IT equipment|
|Global Service Relation Number (GSRN)||Service provider|
and recipient relationships
|Loyalty scheme members, doctors at a hospital, library members|
|Component/Part Identifier (CPID)||Components and parts|
|Global Model Number (GMN)||product model|
Beyond GS1, specifications and requirements for each code are presented by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). For more about how these codes work themselves, and how to create them, you can check out the relevant ISO standard for more detail.
Direct Part Marking | Best Practices and Proven Methods
Understanding the differences between QR codes and Data Matrix codes, and choosing which is best for your application can get overwhelming. That’s why its important to consult a trusted advisor and partner.
Technomark has been operating and supplying expertise with industrial marking equipment since 2000. Since 2018, Technomark North America is the only established OEM of dot peen and laser marking systems — the primary methods for direct part marking — with a headquarters in the USA.
Technomark has been at the forefront of industrial marking innovation, developing machines for seamless integration in manufacturing processes.
Our goal is to help our customers:
- Increase machine uptime
- Decrease total cost of ownership
- Make part marking and identification simple and cost-effective
- Bring new ideas to the table to increase efficiency
Your relationship with Technomark North America shouldn’t be limited to a strict supplier-to-customer interaction. We value communication above all else, which is why our team is dedicated to finding ways to solve your traceability challenges through a consultative process.
Interested in learning more about Direct Part Marking using Laser Technology? Check out our free ebook below:
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