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FLEXO Magazine : September 2010
Technologies & Techniques New High Density Bar Codes Challenges and opportunities for Flexo Printers By glenn spitz Another related type of bar code is used on a new type of coupon. Called GS1-DataBar Expanded, it can consist of multiple rows (typically two, but sometimes three or four) and allows enough information to be encoded for a complex offer to be expressed on a coupon. A typical offer may be that you get one item free if you buy two other items. The marketing imagination has brought these coupons out of the Sunday newspaper, and onto the labels of many packages that the consumer would ordinarily throw away. What better way to make a tie-in to a product your customer already buys by promoting a related product on the disposable packaging? The third type of new bar code is Data Matrix. This type of bar code, shown in Figure 3, is truly a different animal. Rather than composed of bars and spaces that vary in width in order to convey encoded information, these matrix codes consist of an array of square cells, each representing a 1 or a 0. Data Matrix is actually only one type of matrix symbol- ogy. Others include QR Code and Aztec Code. This article will discuss only Data Matrix as a generic example of these types of bar codes. While the stacked multi-row bar codes in Figure 1 and 2 consists of several rows, the matrix symbol in Figure 3 consists of multiple rows and columns. If a multi-row sym- bol is printed with the web, you would minimize bounce, but what does it even mean to print a matrix symbol with or against the web? In the extreme case of a single cell that is not bordered by other cells, you have a small square that stands on its own on a print- ing plate. Data Matrix is typically printed in a square arrange- ment (number of rows equal to the number of columns of cells). The size of the square matrix grows as the amount of data, and therefore, the number of cells needed to encode all those 1’s and 0’s increases. For some label designs, however, a rectangular shape accommodates the available space better. An 8 x 32 cell matrix is shown in Figure 4. SimilaritieS to UPC Most flexo printers who have printed packaging material have some familiarity with the UPC symbology. However, as we see, UPC is not the only type of bar code around. We have seen several differences between these types of bar codes and UPC, but there are also similarities. After all, these are bar codes that are conveying information encoded into printed patterns. FigUre 1. gs1-DataBar stacked omnidirectional bar code commonly found on fresh produce. All images courtesy Webscan inc. FigUre 2. gs1-DataBar expanded. FigUre 3. Data matrix. www.flexography.org sePtemBer 2010 FLeXO 51 Schober USA Inc. · 11237 Grooms Road · USA-Cincinnati, OH 45242-1403 Phone 513/489-7393 · Fax 513/489-7485 · email@example.com · www.schoberusa.com Schober High Tech-Machines. Reliable processing of in-mould labels! Schober-process-technology for foil, multi-layer and in-mould labels. The objective is to maintain competitiveness and consistent quality in the production process. Schober rotary machines produce intricate design in-mould labels with registration accuracy, reliably and economically. Schober know-how – from the unwind to a wide range of delivery options. Just ask us – we will advise you worldwide. FLX_Sept2010_mech.indd 51 9/1/10 9:45 AM