2D Barcodes

2D barcodes —2D barcodes, or two-dimensional barcodes, are more complex. They encode data generally in square or rectangular patterns of two dimensions.

Examples of 2D barcodes:

  • QR Code
  • PDF417
  • DataMatrix
  • GS1 Composite Code
  • MaxiCode
  • Aztec Code

QR code

What is it?

The QR code is a type of matrix barcode that can encode a wide variety of data types, including numeric, alphabets, special characters and binary data as well. These are the ones you see nowadays with a series of black and white cells rather than the more familiar black lines or bars. They really rose in popularity with mobile devices. It was initially developed by Toyota subsidiary Denso in September 1994. It’s currently defined by the International Organization for Standardization(ISO)/The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) 18004.

The QR code was designed to allow high-speed component scanning. A charge-coupled device (CCD) barcode reader can decode up to 30 QR codes per second with up to 100 characters in each barcode.

The QR code has full (360 degrees) reading features. Each QR code has three finder patterns located in three corners of the QR code. A CCD reading device can detect and decode the position of the barcode, the size of the barcode and the size of the inclination angle.

This barcode type has a high data density. It can encode 1,817 Chinese characters, 7,089 numbers or 4,296 English letters. It has four levels of error correction. Even if a QR code is damaged or broken, it can often still be read correctly.

A common QR code appears like such:

QR code

Where is it used?

Today, QR codes have become common in areas such as consumer advertising, code payments, website logins, for data encryption, and more.

Industry

  • Retail
  • Entertainment
  • Advertising

PDF417

What is it?

The PDF417 barcode is a type of stacked linear barcode. Symbol Technologies was said to have developed this barcode type back in 1991. Today, it is represented by ISO standard 15438.

Each PDF417 barcode consists of three to 90 rows, and a single row is essentially the equivalent of a small 1D barcode. PDF417 specifies that each pattern in the code consists of four bars and spaces, and each pattern is to be 17 units long. This is how we get the “417” part of the name.

A common PDF417 barcode looks like this:

PDF417

Where is it used?

The PDF417 barcode type is mainly used in transportation, identification cards and inventory management. Most states in America use PDF417 to encode drivers’ key information on the back side of driver licenses.

Industry

  • Transport
  • Logistics
  • Warehousing
  • Government

Data Matrix

What is it?

Data Matrix barcode is also a two-dimensional matrix barcode. It first came about in 1994, and today, it is represented by the standard ISO/IEC 16022. The Data Matrix barcode supports advanced encoding error checking and correction algorithms. This allows the recognition of barcodes that are up to 60 percent damaged. So, it’s commonly used on items where barcodes get easily damaged due to high heat, chemical exposure, etc. As a result, Data Matrix barcodes are used in electrical rating plates, surgical instruments, circuit boards and the like.

Data Matrix barcodes are adaptable in size. The symbol size can be as small as 2.5mm, which is the smallest among all 2D barcodes. Meanwhile, the size and the encoded data capacity is independent. This allows the choosing of a lot of different matrix sizes.

A common Data Matrix barcode can appear like this:

Data Matrix

Where is it used?

The most popular application for Data Matrix is labeling small items, such as small electronic components and pill bottles.

Industry

  • Electronics
  • Retail
  • Government
  • Marketing
  • Post
  • Electronics
  • Medical

GS1 Composite Code

What is it?

The GS1 Composite symbology integrates both a GS1 system linear symbol and a 2D Composite Component as a single symbology. The 2D Composite Component is printed above the linear component. The two components are separated by a separator pattern.

For more information about all the different variations, please visit our GS1 Composite introduction.

A common GS1 Composite code can appear like this:

gs1 composite barcode Dynamsoft

Where is it used?

GS1 Composite barcodes are typically found in grocery stores on fresh produce labels.

Industry

  • Retail

MaxiCode

What is it?
MaxiCode is a two-dimensional code developed by United Parcel Service (UPS). It’s suitable for tracking and managing shipments of packages. It uses dots arranged in a hexagonal grid with concentric circles in the center. MaxiCode symbols include a number of encoded messages such as:

  • Purchase order number
  • Customer reference
  • Invoice number
  • Tracking number
  • Indicator of the originating carrier

A common MaxiCode can appear like this:

maxicode barcode Dynamsoft

Where is it used?

MaxiCode is mostly used on shipping labels for addressing and sorting US domestic and international packages.

Industry

  • Postal

Aztec Code

What is it?

Aztec codes use less space than other matrix barcodes due to its lack of a quiet zone, and is therefore ideal in scenarios where space is limited.

Aztec codes are published as ISO/IEC 24778:2008 standard.

Aztec code dynamsoft

Where is it used?

  • Aztec codes are a type of 2D barcode used in transport ticketing, (i.e. railways and airplane boarding passes).

Industry

  • Transportation
  • Government
  • Commercial