Industrial Automation



Big News for Tiny Codes

Fig.1 A Tiny Barcode in Reference to the Tip of a Colored Pencil

Size Matters

Does size matter? In our industry – YES! Space, or the lack of it, can be a challenge when placing barcodes or Data Matrix Symbols on different components. As laser printing technology advances, so does the ability to print smaller and smaller codes onto a variety of surfaces via DPM (Direct Part Mark) and 2D symbols. The size of the code, the type of material it’s printed on and the curvature of the surface are huge factors when trying to read tiny codes and keep costs down. Even if you have the space to place a tiny code, what are you using to read it? 

Reading Tiny Codes

Fig.2 Microchip with Barcode in Reference to a Sewing Needle
Read and Verify Codes Invisible to the Naked Eye

While visiting manufacturing customers at their factory automation and production lines, we continuously heard the same problem: “I cannot read or decode this tiny barcode.” Readable barcodes are critical to component traceability, time/date stamping, work in progress (WIP) tracking, and recall management.  With the UDI system mandated by the FDA and GS1, HIBC, USPS, and ISO/IEC 15415/15416 guidelines outlining the standards for what a “quality” code should be, it is more important now than ever to have the ability to reliably and consistently read tiny codes. Our solution for this problem? The Ultra-High Density (UHD) MicroHAWK Imager, designed specifically to read tiny symbols with an x-dimension as small as 2 mil (0.0254 mm), as well as Data Matrix two-dimensional (2D) symbols and Direct Part Marks (DPM). 

MicroHAWK UHD Customer Solutions

We recently visited a customer who needed to read Data Matrix codes that were laser-etched onto a silicon chip. The code was impossible to see with the naked eye. We installed the MicroHAWK UHD Autofocus (AF) unit, opened the intuitive Weblink User Interface on the local PC web browser (which comes with every MicroHAWK unit), adjusted the exposure and gain settings in Weblink, and instantly began reading the codes.

We visited another customer who is laser printing both tiny Data Matrix and liner bar codes on titanium. This substrate is one of the most difficult to read because it is highly reflective, and “hotspots” are often generated by red or white lights reflecting off the titanium surface. We provided the MicroHAWK UHD, equipped with a blue lighting option instead of red or white. The blue lighting option reduced the oversaturation of the image, which  produced a much softer reflection.  The softer reflection exposed the contrast of the laser printed code. 

MicroHAWK UHD Options

Fig.3 MicroHAWK Product Suite
MicroHAWK Product Line

Do you need to read a code on a curved surface? MicroHAWK UHD Autofocus with XMODE is the solution for you. MicroHAWK UHD is available for all SXGA (1.2 megapixel) MicroHAWK models: ID-20, ID-30 and ID-40 barcode readers, as well as MV-20, MV-30 and MV-40 smart cameras. Read any code on any surface. The MicroHAWK family of barcode readers offers the most versatile decoding power available on the market today.

With products and barcodes shrinking, it is no longer nice for manufacturers to be able to read tiny codes, but a requirement in order to keep up with industry standards. If your company is faced with tiny barcodes I encourage you to reach out to Microscan and see what MicroHAWK can do for you.

Read Your Tiny Codes



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