The Importance of the Quiet Zone in Barcoding

January 13, 2021

Barcodes have several mandatory features that help them stay readable. If any of these are missing, a barcode imager or laser scanner may fail to capture the information contained within the symbol. When that happens, wasted time and product could be the result. For this reason, it’s essential to keep these key elements intact.

One such element is what’s known as the “quiet zone,” or, alternatively, the “no-print zone.” This is a space around a barcode or 2D symbol that must be kept free of text, marks or obstacles in order to provide separation from surrounding marks and help the reader to “see” the code in its entirety.

Quiet zone specifications depend on the type of code

For linear codes, the quiet zone lies to the symbol’s left and right ends and should be at least ten times the width of the code’s narrowest bar. In Data Matrix codes, it surrounds the entire symbol and must be no smaller than the X-dimension (or module size). If there’s moderate to excessive reflected noise near the symbol, the quiet zone should be 2-4 times the module size.

A reader may be unable to decode a symbol if text or other markings bleed into the symbol’s quiet zone. Additionally, such violations may yield inaccurately decoded data strings if the reader interprets non-symbol elements as part of the code. Fortunately, quiet zone violations are possibly the most easily resolvable causes of unreadable barcodes.

Fixing issues with quiet zone allocation

Problems with the quiet zone are often due to a simple lack of planning for the inclusion of space around a printed or marked barcode or symbol. In such cases, you can simply adjust the printing or marking method – or the substrate – to accommodate the minimum space requirements.

When background noise or unexpected marks and debris enter the quiet zone, no-reads may be due to errors in the printing or marking method. Additional lighting techniques can also be employed in situations where the quiet zone contains noise caused by reflections or shadows on an uneven substrate.

When the area available for printing or marking a barcode is limited by the overall surface area on a part (such as a PCB), it’s possible to get away with smaller-than-recommended quiet zone by investing in high-performance barcode readers. Some of these devices can ensure good reads even when the quiet zone is narrower than the codes’ prescribed minimums.


Related Articles

Latest Articles

  • Guide to Synchronous Serial Interface (SSI) in Industrial Applications

    Guide to Synchronous Serial Interface (SSI) in Industrial Applications

    April 15, 2024 Synchronous Serial Interface (SSI) technology is a cornerstone in the realm of digital communication, particularly for conveying position and speed feedback from encoders in both rotary and linear forms. Known for its precision and resilience to noise interference, SSI plays a pivotal role in applications demanding high accuracy, such as in CNC… Read More…

  • Omron’ Advanced Safety Services 101

    Omron Offers Advanced Safety Services – What You May Not Know Yet April 10, 2024 In any industrial setting, safety is of the utmost importance. Omron Offers Advanced Safety Services to help you and your staff navigate the challenges of complex industry standards and compliance regulations. They also can provide machine safety technology to protect… Read More…

Featured Article

Revolutionizing Material Movement with Autonomous Mobile Robots

Revolutionizing Material Movement with Autonomous Mobile Robots

In today’s fast-paced manufacturing and logistics industries, the need for efficient and flexible material movement solutions has never been greater. Traditional methods like conveyor systems, forklifts, and manual pushcarts have served us well, but they come with limitations.

That’s why Omron is thrilled to announce the launch of their game-changing MD Series of Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs). Read more


  • MDA Space Awarded $250m Contract Extension to Support Robotics Operations on the International Space Station

    April 18, 2024 Engineering and operations services contract extension includes new scope for MDA Space to provide robotics flight controllers MDA Space (TSX:MDA), a trusted mission partner to the rapidly expanding global space industry, today announced it has received a $250 million contract extension from the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) to continue supporting robotics operations… Read More…

  • Introducing SEW-Eurodrive’s QR Codes

    April 18, 2024 Access product support in a flash Scan QR Codes even while your Drives are Running. To continually improve efficiency in SEW-Eurodrive’s products and how they deliver their services, they are pleased to introduce their QR code Product Support and Specifications App. Starting this year, each new SEW-Eurodrive Product leaving assembly will be… Read More…