Barcode Laser Scanners

When selecting a data capture device it’s important to understand that both barcode laser scanners and imagers offer benefits for specific applications.  Laser barcode scanners read barcodes with a laser beam that is moved back and forth across a code by oscillating mirrors.  So unlike imagers, laser scanners have moving parts that can make them less reliable.  In addition, laser barcode scanners can only read linear barcodes and not 2D symbols like imagers.  But one of the major advantages that laser scanners have over linear imagers is their read range.  Laser scanners like the Intermec SR60 pictured at left are capable of reading up to 36 feet away and its narrow beam can support a wide variety of depths of field.  Fixed position laser scanners also boast a snappy scan speed of about 600-1800 scans per second.  In fact, they can actually be fast enough to read a label before it even passes the scanner.  It is important to look at these kinds of benefits before choosing your data capture method.  The benefits that laser scanners offer make these devices perfect for applications such as:

  • long-range scanning in warehouses or distribution centers
  • stationary scanners for conveyor belts

The following table from the Intermec white paper Guide to Scanning Technologies offers a quick comparison of linear imagers and laser scanners.

Application

Linear Imager

Laser Scanner

Scanning distance less than 18 inches

X

 

Scanning distance up to 36 feet

 

X

Higher barcode densities

X

Requires special scan engine

Poor quality/damaged barcodes

X

 

Over-laminated barcodes

X

 

Linear barcode labels

X

X

2D stacked barcodes-PDF 417/Code 49 (requires special software)

X

Requires special scan engine

Reliability

X

 

Scan rate: 30-50 scans per second

 

X

Scan rate: 200-800 scans per second

X

Fixed position only

Very bright spotting/scanning beam

 

X

Fast scanning in fixed positions

X

X

For more information about linear imagers, please read my post Linear Imager Capabilities.  If you’d like information about purchasing either a barcode laser scanner or a linear imager please contact me at ehodges@barcode.com.