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In today’s industry, part tracking and traceability is critical for automotive OEMs and automotive suppliers. Ever-increasing demands for quality and growing regulatory requirements mean the need has never been greater for permanent, legible, and accurate markings on each component part.
Laser marking is the most effective method for traceable part codes, because whether the product is made of plastic (foaming/charring), ceramic or metal (oxidize, etch, coating removal), the laser engraving is permanent and visible, even if the details are complex. We know this is important because these codes allow you to trace the manufacturer and the date and place of production of the item, making it easier to manage any problems and significantly reducing the risk of errors. For managing engineering revisions for the final product is easy with a one-step quick change in the program.In addition, laser etching – on any material – is ideal for serialization of parts and components, 2D codes (data matrix) and Human Readable Text (HR).
Laser Safety: A Few Reminders
When you’ve been working with a technology for five decades, you occasionally need reminders that others have not, and it’s a good idea to revisit some of the basics every once in a while—especially when it comes to laser safety.
Deciphering Common Laser Marking Barcodes
Barcoding is a way to take an abundance of information and place it into an easily machine-readable format. When it comes to direct part marking, barcodes have been used since its inception to help track, trace, and serialize components or parts for the manufacturing world. As we progress through this document, we will outline the most common barcodes that have stood the test of time for direct part marking and their most common uses in industries worldwide.
Traditional barcodes that we have all grown to love are utilized in a vast amount of tracking and traceability. You can find barcodes in grocery stores with inventory control and sales, all the way through products in the automotive, electronics, and aerospace applications. Code-128 and Code-39 are two of the most common formats for 1D barcoding. Semiconductors and Electrochromic components are usually marked with this format to be read with some of the simplest of barcode reading technology. With its limited amount of information (just a few alphanumeric characters) and space to be placed on parts or components, there was a need to construct a new type of coding.
The 2D code was introduced when the need arrived to fit more tracking and tracing information into a smaller, more durable, and compact code. The automotive industry has been using 2D Datamatrix coding to track, trace, and serialize the majority of your vehicle’s components today. Everything from windshield wipers down to your brake rotors. The automotive industry has adopted a grading criterion for 2D coding implemented industry-wide. Within the past couple of years, there has been a created a grading system for the codes. All 2D Datamatrix codes now have an A through F grade based on many parameters that are easily graded with a barcode reader, grader verifier. Soon other industries realized the value of a compact code that can store up to 4000 characters. Restaurants, rental car companies, consumer packaging, and other retailers started using a 2D code variation called the QR Code to track & trace their products. Another very prominent use is the GS-1 formatted 2-D code used in medical manufacturing, aerospace manufacturing, and the newly approved MIL-Spec (130.N) for the DOD. The GS-1 formatted 2D codes look very similar to their other counterparts. Still, they have variations and specifications for the format of the code itself and how the information is formatted within the code.Whatever your coding needs are, Beamer has an extensive amount of industry application information to best select the proper coding for your application. Reach out to your local Beamer Laser Marking Sales Engineer to solve your 2D coding application today!
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