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What is a DataMatrix code?


Structure of DataMatrix code

DataMatrix code is a matrix 2D code that was developed by ID Matrix in 1987. It was registered to the ISS standard of AIMI in 1996 and the ISO/IEC standard in 2000.

Specifications
Minimum size 10 x 10 modules
Maximum size 144 x 144 modules
Maximum data capacity Numeric 3116 characters
Alphanumeric 2335 characters

Older versions of DataMatrix code include ECC000, ECC050, ECC080, ECC100 and ECC140.
ECC200 is the latest version of DataMatrix code and can be square or rectangular in configuration.

ECC000, ECC050, ECC080, ECC100, ECC140

These are composed of odd-numbered modules from 9 x 9 to 49 x 49 using convolution correction.
Since a slight distortion disturbs reading when the data size is large, the older versions are almost never used.

ECC200

ECC200 has upgraded error correction capacity to eliminate distortion problems.
It uses Reed-Solomon for error correction that restores data when a part of a code is damaged.
ECC200 is internationally standardized. Generally ECC200 version is used when DataMatrix code is required.

point

The difference between the older versions (ECC000, ECC050, ECC080, ECC100, ECC140) and the new version (ECC200) is the number of modules per side. Older versions have odd-numbered modules and the new version has even-numbered modules.

ECC140
ECC140

ECC200
ECC200


Structure of DataMatrix codes (ECC200)

Alignment pattern and clock pattern

The data area of DataMatrix codes is surrounded by an L-shaped frame called the alignment pattern and dotted lines called the clock pattern. Readers capture these patterns to determine the position of the code with image processing. Thus, DataMatrix codes can be read from any direction.

Alignment pattern and clock pattern

When there are more than 24 x 24 modules, the code is divided in blocks that do not exceed 24 modules on a side. This structure prevents distortion of the code.

Code size and number of blocks

There are twenty-four code sizes, ranging from 10 x 10 modules to 144 x 144 modules (including six sizes for the rectangular type).
When a code has more than 26 x 26 modules (more than 24 x 24 modules for data), it is divided in blocks, as seen below, that do not exceed 24 modules on a side. This structure prevents distortion of the code.

Symbol size Block Data cell
10x10 to 26x26 1 8x8 to 24x24
28x28 to 52x52 4 14x14 to 24x24
64x64 to 104x104 16 14x14 to 24x24
120x120 to 144x144 36 18x18 to 22x22
Code size and number of blocks

Margin

The margin around a DataMatrix code should be larger than a module.

Margin

Error correcting code (Reed-Solomon code)

The Reed-Solomon code restores the data when a part of the DataMatrix code is damaged.

Arrangement of data and error correcting code

Data and error correcting codes are arranged as shown below.

Arrangement of data and error correcting code

For converting “YSK” into a DataMatrix code: YSK are coded and error correcting codes are calculated as below and arranged in a square.

Arrangement of data and error correcting code

Specifications of DataMatrix code

DataMatrix code (ECC200) has two configurations, square and rectangular, and always contains an even number of cells.

Square type

Square type

Specifications for square type DataMatrix (ECC200)
Minimum size 10 x 10 modules
Maximum size 144 x 144 modules
Maximum data capacity Numeric 3116 characters
Alphanumeric 2335 characters
Binary 1556 characters

There are twenty-four symbol sizes ranging from 10 x 10 modules to 144 x 144 modules. When there are more than 24 x 24 modules, the code is divided in blocks that do not exceed 24 modules on a side. This structure prevents distortion of the code.

Rectangular type

Rectangular type

Specifications for Rectangular type DataMatrix (ECC200)
Minimum size 8 x 16 modules
Maximum size 16 x 48 modules
Maximum data capacity Numeric 98 characters
Alphanumeric 72 characters
Binary 47 characters

There are following six sizes for a rectangular type.

•8 x 18 modules (1 block)
•12 x 26 modules (1 block)

•16 x 36 modules (1 block)
•8 x 32 modules (2 blocks)

•12 x 36 modules (2 blocks)
•16 x 48 modules (2 blocks)

Note

In DataMatrix codes, the error correction rate is automatically determined by the symbol size and data capacity. Unlike QR code, it cannot be freely specified.

How to determine the DataMatrix code size

The actual size of the DataMatrix code is determined by multiplying the symbol size by the printable size of the module.

When the size of the module is 0.25 mm,

Symbol size: 10 x 10 modules = 2.5 x 2.5 mm
Symbol size: 32 x 32 modules = 8.0 x 8.0 mm
Symbol size: 8 x 18 modules = 2.0 x 4.5 mm

Data capacity of each symbol size

Square type

Module numbers Data capacity Error correcting rate
Numeric Alphanumeric Binary
10 x 10 6 3 1 25%
12 x 12 10 6 3 25%
14 x 14 16 10 6 28 to 39%
16 x 16 24 16 10 25 to 38%
18 x 18 36 25 16 22 to 34%
20 x 20 44 31 20 23 to 38%
22 x 22 60 43 28 20 to 34%
24 x 24 72 52 34 20 to 35%
26 x 26 88 64 42 19 to 35%
32 x 32 124 91 60 18 to 34%
36 x 36 172 127 84 16 to 30%
40 x 40 228 169 112 15 to 28%
44 x 44 288 214 142 14 to 27%
48 x 48 348 259 172 14 to 27%
52 x 52 408 304 202 15 to 27%
64 x 64 560 418 278 14 to 27%
72 x 72 736 550 366 14 to 26%
80 x 80 912 682 454 15 to 28%
88 x 88 1152 862 574 14 to 27%
96 x 96 1392 1042 694 14 to 27%
104 x 104 1632 1222 814 15 to 28%
120 x 120 2100 1573 1048 14 to 27%
132 x 132 2608 1954 1302 14 to 26%
144 x 144 3116 2335 1556 14 to 27%

Rectangular type

Module numbers Data capacity Error correcting rate
Numeric Alphanumeric Binary
8 x 18 10 6 3 25%
8 x 32 20 13 8 24%
12 x 26 32 22 14 23 to 37%
12 x 36 44 31 20 23 to 38%
16 x 36 64 46 30 21 to 38%
16 x 48 98 72 47 18 to 33%
Note

Each number of characters in the table above is the maximum number of characters that can be entered.
However, a symbol size becomes larger depending on the data component (e.g. a combination of figures and symbols or a combination of upper and lower case letters), even when the data contains less characters than indicated in the table above.


GS1 DataMatrix

GS1 DataMatrix is a 2D code symbol that was standardized by GS1 for distribution. It is based on the ECC200 Standard and defines the the following rules in order to differentiate from conventional DataMatrix code.

Major contents of GS1 DataMatrix code

Code used DataMatrix ECC200
FNC1 [FNC1] is placed at the top of the data in order to define it as GS1's standard specifications.
Application identifier (AI) An identifying code that is added to the beginning of the data strip to define what kind of information follows this identifying code. Application identifiers (AI) are specified by ISO/IEC.
Variable length data When entering data in which the amount of information changes (variable length data) such as a quantity, insert [FNC1] as a separator after the variablelength data. This [FNC1] is specified to output [GS] (1Dh in ASCII code) when read by a code reader.
* [GS]: Group separator

Print size for a GS1 module

GS1 recommends the following sizes for a module when printing GS1 DataMatrix code.

  Recommended module size Maximum module size Minimum module size
Printing on a label 0.300mm 0.615mm 0.255mm
DPM 0.380mm 0.495mm 0.380mm

Sample of GS1 DataMatrix code

Sample of GS1 DataMatrix code

Element AI Data
GTIN (14 fi xed digits) 01 04912345678904
Quantity (variable length) 30 100
Sell-by date 17 120401

Relation to GS1-128

GS1 DataMatrix code has the same data structure as that of GS1-128. Thus, it likely will be used when it is necessary to deal with large amounts of data despite the fact that print area is limited. In addition, GS1 DataMatrix code will be standardized in the medical industry. Since codes are to be directly printed on steel medical instruments, such as surgical knifes and scissors, the guidelines have been established.

  • * Steel medical instrument: An instrument that is produced with such materials as stainless, aluminum, copper alloy, titanium, or ceramics, and is reused in medical procedures and surgeries.
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