GS1 DataMatrix

How do you mark parts and components, in particular smaller items with limited available space to apply a code? Our Datamatrix factsheet has everything you need to know about using GS1 DataMatrix barcodes.

What is GS1 DataMatrix?

GS1 DataMatrix is a compact, two-dimensional barcode which holds a large amount of data in a small space.

At its maximum, a DataMatrix symbol can store 2,335 alphanumeric characters, which may include manufacturer ID, a unique serial number and more.

  • Can capture up to 2,335 alphanumeric characters or 3,116 numbers
  • Used to identify very detailed product information, such as electronic parts or surgical instruments
  • Used in some retail POS scanning to contain variable data such as weight and batch information.
  • 2D scanners are required to read these codes (many Australian supermarkets are upgrading their scanners to take advantage of these codes).
  • Includes built-in error correction systems to compensate for lost or missing data, or damaged barcode


  • Encodes more data in a smaller space
  • Enables direct part marking of items where labels are not practical, e.g. surgical instruments
  • Features error checking and correction making it easy to detect barcode damage and even possible to read some or all of the code
  • Extremely reliable and secure

Breaking it down - GS1 Datamatrix

  • Printed as a square or rectangular symbol made up of individual dots or squares. Square is the most common as it can encode the largest amount of data. Rectangular has a limited height, which is better suited to high-speed printing techniques and unusual printing spaces.
  • Bordered by a finder pattern which is used by the scanner to locate the symbol and identify it as a GS1 DataMatrix.
  • Data is encoded in a series of dark or light dots based upon a pre-determined size, known as the X-dimension.
  • Always has an even number of rows and columns.
  • Always contains a light square in the upper right-hand corner.
  • Quiet Zone is one module wide on all four sides and must not contain any print.

Common scenario examples

  • Marking of small items and components
  • Medical instruments and surgical implants
  • Automotive and aircraft metal parts
  • Fresh Produce
Marking of small items and components

The most common use of DataMatrix barcodes is marking directly onto small parts, such as electronic and circuit board components, as it enables a large amount of data to be contained in a very small space.

Marking of small items and components

Data Matrix - Marking of Small Items and Components

Medical instruments and surgical implants

GS1 DataMatrix is extensively used in the pharmaceutical and healthcare industries for anti-counterfeiting applications and asset tracking (ie; for medical devices).

Medical instruments and surgical implants

Data Matrix Medical Instruments and Surgical Implants LR

Automotive and aircraft metal parts

One of the first organisations to use DataMatrix codes was NASA in the ‘80s. NASA engraved codes onto parts of space rockets knowing the codes wouldn’t come off.

Automotive and aircraft metal parts

Data Matrix Marking of Small Items and Components

Fresh Produce

The Datamatrix is used to contain variable data to reduce operator scan time and the risk of selling expired or recalled products. The value of being able to uniquely identify and recall a specific product pack of fresh produce (instead of the entire batch) is significant.

Fresh Produce

Data Matrix Fresh Produce

GS1 Datamatrix Essential Checklist

  • DataMatrix codes need to be printed clearly and crisply
  • Use GS1 Application Identifiers to encode data
  • Check the Quiet Zone is included
  • Show the human readable interpretation of the Application Identifiers and their associated data near the DataMatrix symbol, where possible
  • Use solid dark colours against bright, reflective light colours for the best print contrast. It’s possible to have light modules on a dark background, or vice versa.
  • Always test the final printed code with a 2D code camera-based scanner
  • The symbol orientation has limited impact on scanning.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between normal Datamatrix and the GS1 Datamatrix?

GS1 Datamatrix is regulated by the GS1 global standards body. It uses a Funtion 1 Symbol Character (FNC1) at the beigning of it's code that acts a special start squence that differentiates it from a normal Datmatrix.  

The GTIN-14 is only for groupings of the same items. In other words, all products contained in the carton/case are identical.

What industries is DataMatrix designed for?

DataMatrix is designed for industries that require parts marking, such as aerospace, automotive, semiconductor,medical instruments and fresh produce. The global healthcare industry has identified DataMatrix as its long-term preferred barcode.

Does DataMatrix replace any other barcodes?

In some circumstances it can, for example in some supermarkets the Datamatrix has replaced the EAN-13 in fresh produce and meat.

Which scanners work with GS1 DataMatrix?

Camera-based barcode scanners are required to read GS1 DataMatrix codes. Normal 1D barcode scanners cannot read 2D barcodes.

What is the GS1 DataMatrix barcode size?

The size of the DataMatrix barcode is determined by the amount of data to be encoded. The square symbol can be as small as 10x10 and as big as 144x144 modules. The rectangular symbol can vary between 8 - 18 modules/rows and 16 – 48 modules/columns.

Is there a minimum size for GS1 DataMatrix?

The smallest size of GS1 DataMatrix is 10 x 10 modules.

What is the GS1 DataMatrix Application Identifier?

Like other barcodes, DataMatrix is made up of a string of GS1 Application Identifiers. For example, 01 for GTIN, 10 for batch or lot number, 21 for serial number, and so on. Go to GS1 Australia’s website for a full list of AIs.

What’s the best marking technology for DataMatrix?

Laser is a suitable option for printing indelible and permanent DataMatrix codes onto a wide range of substrates, such as plastic, glass, paper, cartons and metals.

Other options include thermal transfer, inkjet and direct part marking (e.g. engraving).


Whilst we attempt to update this page as changes occur we do not guarantee its accuracy and recommend that you contact GS1 Australia for the most up to date advice.