Barcodes started out as just ideas and concepts in the 1950s and 60s, and since then have grown and developed to become a global necessity. Linear or one-dimensional barcodes were the first of its kind, and these are the ones we see on millions of products on a day to day basis which allow them to be scanned and monitored. Two-dimensional barcodes were then introduced, and while some of them offer the same principle of scanning items, these 2D barcodes can hold a significantly larger amount of data.
What the general public may be unaware of (until now) are 3D barcodes. Manufacturing companies were looking for a method to improve the marking, tracking and inventory of the different parts of their products while they were still in the manufacturing process. 1D and 2D barcode labels unfortunately proved impractical...
December 3, 2012
The barcodes you come across in daily life – and likely don’t even notice – are what are called UPC – or Universal Product Code – barcodes. They’ve been around since 1973 and are generally taken for granted. But how do they work? It may look a bit complex to the average human, but a computerised barcode scanning system will manage easily. Let’s try and take a look from a scanner’s perception!
As you can see a single barcode number can actually be broken down into seven separate units – the starting digit or number system character – which tells the scanner where to begin reading the code from, the manufacturer and product code, the check digit, and three guard bars located between these. They let the scanner ‘know’ where the breaks between the codes...
I would imagine that the vast majority of people who look at barcode numbers and images have no idea what the numbers stand for and how they are derived. Well this blog should shed some light on that issue, and will give you a simple method by which to test your own codes. The above image is a simple test-barcode number that we will use as an example for this blog. First thing to notice is that it is an EAN-13 code, rather than a UPC code. The only difference between the two is that an EAN code is 13 digits long, while a UPC code is only 12 digits in length. The reason why we have two variations of retail codes is because when barcode technology was first develop in the States back in the early 70's, they decided to use only 12 digit codes (UPC). However, when the barcode system started to take off around the world GS1 (known as the UCC back then) decided to introduce an extra digit to allow for the increasing numbers of codes required. When they made this move, they instigated a...
Our blog researchers include local barcode experts from the SA Barcodes team: Cat Robinson and Andreas van Wyk
SA Barcodes Team
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