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Data Matrix (ECC200) - 2D Barcode

Data Matrix is a two-dimensional matrix barcode, which encodes text or raw data in a pattern of black and white square modules. Usual data size is from a few bytes up to 2 kilobytes. By adding error correction codes (according to the ECC200 standard) the symbols can be read even if they are partially damaged.


Data Matrix Samples

Data Matrix Image - 2D Bar Code Symbology ( encoded)

2D Barcode Data Matrix with encoded URL (Mobile Marketing)

DataMatrix Image - 2D Bar Code Symbology (6 characters encoded)

2D Barcode DataMatrix with 6 characters

Data Matrix Image - 2D Bar Code Symbology (200 characters encoded)

2D Barcode Data Matrix with 200 characters

Data Matrix Overview

Application Areas of Data Matrix

DataMatrix is used for encoding large amounts of data, it is mainly used in Europe and in the United States. The dominating application areas are direct part marking and laser marking - both especially in the aerospace, electronic, and automotive industry. In addition Data Matrix is used for general logistic purposes, document management applications, postal services (digital stamps for the Deutsche Post, Premiumadress Service), and medical / health industry related applications (HIBC).

Starting with 2006/2007 the use of the Data Matrix barcode is also spreading in the area of mobile marketing, in such applications the DataMatrix barcode is also known under the name SemaCode. In a mobile marketing scenario a Data Matrix symbol is printed or displayed on products or marketing related materials (e.g. displays, magazines, and even web-pages). A user can now scan or decode this DataMatrix using a mobile phone with a built-in camera and suitable decoder software. After decoding the Data Matrix barcode symbol the user is forwarded to marketing or product related web-sites and blogs.

DataMatrix Classification

DataMatrix is a 2D barcode symbology with very high data density. Data Matrix symbols are printed in square or sometimes a rectangular pattern. Each dot of a DataMatrix symbol represents a bit. This is in contrast to linear bar-codes, where the information is encoded in the ratio of the bars or spaces to each other. Usually a black dot in a Data Matrix symbol is equivalent with the bit-value 1, but DataMatrix may also be printed white on black.

History of Data Matrix

Data Matrix was developed by the company RVSI Acuity CiMatrix. This company was later acquired by Siemens Energy and Automation, Inc.

Aliases for DataMatrix

DataMatrix is also known under the name Semacode. As mentioned above this name is used for Data Matrix symbols when used for mobile marketing applications. See, ECC200 Code, ECC 200.

Technical Data

  • Normative standards: The normative standards for the Data Matrix barcode symbology are called ISO/IEC 16022:2000 and ISO/IEC 24720:2006 (ISO International Standard).
  • DataMatrix data capacity: A single DataMatrix symbol can theoretically hold up to 3116 digits, 2335 alphanumeric characters, or 1556 bytes. Due to internal data compression algorithms the exact data capacity depends on the structure of the data to be encoded. The maximum Data Matrix capacity is also influenced by available printing space and the printer resolution.
  • The default character set is Latin-1 or ANSI ASCII (equivalent to ECI 000003).
  • Error correction: DataMatrix offers a built-in error correction method based on Reed-Solomon algorithms. The error correction level is not adjustable by the user but it is possible to restore approximately 25% of unreadable codewords in a Data Matrix symbol without data loss.
  • ECC200: The term ECC200 refers to DataMatrix symbols which are generated according to the latest (and most sophisticated) built-in error correction methods. Older Data Matrix encoding schemes like ECC 000, ECC 050, ECC 080, ECC 100, ECC 140 must not be used for new applications. TEC-IT software only creates ECC 200 DataMatrix symbols.
  • Data Matrix supports 'Structured Append'. Up to 16 DataMatrix symbols can be concatenated. If a scanner or decoder supports this feature, it returns the concatenated data content in the correct order.
  • Data Matrix printing quality: To optimize barcode quality a DataMatrix symbol should not be printed with dots smaller than 4 to 5 device pixels.

GS1 Data Matrix (ECC 200)

Because of its technical advantages the GS1 organization considered the DataMatrix 2D barcode symbology for its system.

The so called GS1 or EAN Data Matrix is a standard DataMatrix symbol (ECC 200) with an internal GS1 identifier in the data structure (like the FNC1-Prefix in an GS1-128). The use of Application Identifiers is supported, this is comparable to the linear barcode GS1-128/EAN-128 or GS1 DataBar Expanded, where a code word similar to FNC1 acts as a field separator.

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