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The Technology

1D vs 2D Barcode Scanners – Differences and Advantages

In the world of inventory management, shipping, and product identification, barcode scanners are indispensable tools. They help streamline operations, reduce errors, and increase efficiency. But not all barcode scanners are created equal. In this article, we’ll delve into the world of 1D and 2D barcode scanners, explaining how they work and the key differences between them.

How Barcode Scanners Work

A barcode scanner is a device that reads the information encoded in barcodes. It consists of three main parts: the illumination system, the sensor, and the decoder. The illumination system illuminates the barcode with a red light. The sensor detects the reflected light from the barcode and generates an analog signal that is sent to the decoder. The decoder interprets that signal, validates it, and converts it into text.

Behind the protective window of a barcode scanner, you’ll find the optical components, including a high-precision mirror known as a first surface mirror. This mirror is ultra-flat and ensures accuracy by avoiding double reflection, also known as ghosting. The high precision provided by the optical mirror allows the scanner to read the barcode quickly and accurately from all angles.

Differences Between 1D and 2D Barcodes

1D barcodes, also known as linear barcodes, are the traditional, “classic” barcodes that represent data in lines and spaces of various widths. These barcodes are typically used in retail for product identification, pricing, and inventory tracking. When a 1D barcode is scanned, product information related to the barcode is retrieved from a database.

On the other hand, 2D barcodes consist of horizontal and vertical patterns of squares, hexagons, dots, and other shapes which encode the data. They can include pictures, text, and even formatting types. 2D barcodes, such as QR codes, can be scanned from any angle, making them more versatile. Unlike 1D barcodes, 2D barcodes are self-contained, meaning they do not require a database to provide data related to the product. By reading the code itself, the scanner can provide data related to the product.

Differences Between 1D Scanners and 2D Scanners

1D scanners are, of course, designed to read 1D barcodes, which are essentially a series of vertical lines of varying thicknesses and distances apart. These scanners use a laser to read the barcode, requiring a high contrast between the barcode and its background. They are typically less expensive and for simpler jobs they will be more than enough.

2D scanners, on the other hand, use a camera-based reader to capture the image of the barcode. They can read both 1D and 2D barcodes, including QR codes, data matrix codes, and more. These scanners can read barcodes from any angle and require less contrast between the barcode and its background compared to 1D scanners. 2D scanners can also handle damaged or slightly worn barcodes better than 1D scanners.

In the end, the best choice is going to come down to the job that needs to be done. For simple inventory tracking a 1D scanner will be more than enough and the lower price makes it the better option. However, the additional cost of a 2D scanner can be justified by the increased functionality and future-proofing that they offer. For a lightweight and hands-free solution, be sure to check out the RS60 Ring Scanner.