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DataMatrix is a two-dimensional barcode which can store from 1 to about 2,000 characters. The symbol is square and can range from 0.001 inch per side up to 14 inches per side. As an example of density, 500 numeric only characters can be encoded in a 1-inch square using a 24-pin dot matrix printer. The sample shown above encodes 20 ASCII characters.

DataMatrix is especially good for encoding small amounts of data in a very small space. It is often used to mark serial numbers on products using laser etching (golf club heads, as one example). Another application is marking batch or serial numbers on pharmaceutical products, which often have very limited label space available. Here is an example of an 8-digit serial number printed as a DataMatrix code using an element size of 10.83 mils (0.01083 inches):

DataMatrix is being used to encode product and serial number information on electrical rating plates; to mark of surgical instruments in Japan; to identify lenses, circuit boards, and other items during manufacturing.

DataMatrix symbols require a 2-D scanner; they cannot be read using an ordinary linear barcode scanner. A number of scanners are on the market using both laser and CCD camera technologies. DataMatrix symbols can be printed using most professional-grade thermal transfer label printers on the market.