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A Data Matrix code is a two-dimensional matrix barcode consisting of black and white "cells" or modules arranged in either a square or rectangular pattern.
The information to be encoded can be text or raw data. Usual data size is from a few bytes up to 2 kilobytes.
The length of the encoded data depends on the symbol dimension used.
Error correction codes are added to increase symbol strength: even if they are partially damaged, they can still be read.
A Data Matrix symbol can store up to 2,335 alphanumeric characters.
The most popular application for Data Matrix is marking small items, due to the code's ability to encode fifty characters in a symbol that is readable at 2 or 3 mm2 and the fact that the code can be read with only a 20% contrast ratio.
The Data Matrix is infinitely scalable, with commercial applications as small as 300 micrometres (laser etched on a 600 micrometre silicon device) and as large as a 1 metre (3 ft) square (painted on the roof of a wagon).
The Electronic Industries Alliance recommends using Data Matrix for labeling small electronic components.
Data Matrix codes are used for traceability drive in industries, particularly aerospace and pharmaceuticals, where quality control is tight and a black market exists for counterfeit or non-serviceable parts.
Typical Data Matrix codes identify details of the item, including manufacturer ID, part number and a unique serial number