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  • Writer's pictureAndrew Eagan

1D or 2D Scanner: Which is Right for Your Environment?

Let’s start with the basics.

What Is the Difference between 1D and 2D Barcodes?

A 1D barcode is a visual black and white pattern for encoding information. Most people are very familiar with this code’s parallel up and down lines that resemble a “picket fence.” In a 1D barcode, information such as numbers or other keyboard characters is encoded horizontally from left to right. The more characters in your code, the longer it will be. 1D barcodes are traditionally used to encode static data that will be linked to dynamic data that changes frequently. A type of 1D barcode is a UPC label found on many consumer goods.

2D barcode scanning technology uses patterns, shapes, and dots to encrypt information both horizontally and vertically. A 2D barcode can encrypt more characters in the same space as a 1D barcode. While 1D codes typically have 20 to 25 characters, 2D barcodes can have 2,000 characters or more. Types of 2D codes include QR, PDF417, and Data Matrix. These types of codes, in addition to holding more data, can encrypt images, website addresses, voice, and other binary data, which means that the codes can work independently of a database.

1D barcode scanners will only interpret the linear barcode scanning technology. Since the type of encryptions they can decode is limited, 1D barcode scanners are typically less expensive. Price is the main benefit of 1D barcode scanners.

2D barcode scanners offer more versatility. In addition to reading all types of data encryptions, 2D barcode scanners can not only read from any direction and at long ranges, but also interpret damaged or poorly printed barcodes. 2D scanners will reduce wasted time spent trying to read bad barcodes and boost overall productivity in environments where reliability and flexibility are important.

Many companies use a mix of both 1D and 2D barcodes for different applications. In this case, investing in 2D scanners might be the best option for you. 2D scanners have the ability to interpret the encrypted data of a 1D barcode. In fact, 2D imagers have become so versatile that they are often replacing 1D barcode scanners in many applications.

2D barcodes are the best option if you’re looking for fast and accurate barcode readings. Their use in manufacturing and supply chain applications has increased, as this scanning technology efficiently scans moving items on conveyor belts without worrying about scanner alignment. In addition, 2D barcodes are ideal for imprinting on the small parts associated with manufacturing, electronics, pharmaceutical, and medical equipment industries.

When determining the right barcode technology for your operation, consider whether your applications could benefit from a boost in overall productivity and accuracy provided by 2D scanners.

Curious about which barcode solution is right for your company? Contact WNS today to find a solution that fits your needs.


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