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Bar Code 39

CODE 39 is an alphanumeric symbology with some ASCII characters available. Although it is a self checking symbology, check characters may be used when number integrity has a high priority. State-of-the-art handheld scanners; however, make the use of this check character redundant. According to ANSI Standards, Code 39 has a standard density of 9.4 cpi (characters per inch) but greater cpi is possible. It is important to remember that the narrow element in a high-density code can be a problem to some scanners, which makes it imperative that all the equipment used to read these ultra high-density codes be checked for compatibility before any ultra high-density labels are specified. Because of its alphanumeric capability, it is possible to produce more than 102 million unique labels with only 5 characters.

Code 39 is accepted by AIM, NEMA, DOD, NASA, and most FORTUNE 500 companies.

Nine elements, three are
wide (4 spaces, 5 bars)

Applications For Code 39:

  • Healthcare
  • Graphics
  • Manufacturing
  • Automotive
  • Electronics
  • Paper
  • Transportation

Code 39 Options:

  • Increase the CPI
  • Convert from Base 10 to a higher Base

Increase the characters per inch:

In an eight character Code 39 bar code (plus start & stop character), increasing code density from 7.6 cpi to 17.0 cpi can generate a 55% reduction in width of bar code. Before specifying an ultra-high density code, be sure and match the scanner to the bar code.

Number of Characters CPI Width of bar code % Variance
8 + S&S=10 7.6 1.32" 100%
8 + S&S=10 9.4 1.06" 80.3%
8 + S&S=10 11.0 0.91" 68.9%
8 + S&S=10 14.0 0.71" 53.8%
8 + S&S=10 17.0 0.59" 44.6%

Convert from Base 10 to a higher Base for storage of variable data:

Heading 1 Heading 2
Base 10: 0-9 (all numeric)
Base 24: A-Z (all alpha)
Base 30: 0-9 and A-Z deleting A, E, I, O, U and Q
Base 34: 0-9 and A-Z deleting I and O
Base 36: 0-9 and A-Z (alphanumeric)
Base 43: 0-9 and A-Z plus -, .,$, /, +, %, and space

To illustrate the impact of changing from Base 10 to another Base, a 5-character bar code is shown:

10 100,000
24 7,962,624
30 24,300,000
34 45,435,424
36 60,466,176
43 137,008,443


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HP Printers

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