Shedding Some Light On DPM

Quality standards should aid direct-part-marking readability.

Automatic identification association AIM Global has developed quality standards for an increasingly popular type of bar coding known as direct-part marking (DPM). The new standards will act as a bridge between existing print quality standards for bar codes and the direct-part-mark environment.

DPM involves laser etching, dot peening or molding a code onto a metallic surface, resulting in two different surface conditions. The little contrast that results between the marked surface and the background can make readability difficult.

The new standards provide an image-based measurement method for DPM. The document, the "Direct Part Mark Quality Guideline," was developed by a joint ad hoc committee of AIM Global's Technical Symbology Committee members.

DPM is being used primarily in the aerospace, government and other fields where asset identification is essential, says Daniel Mullen, president of AIM Global. "It's really a ground-breaking effort because it's a place where we see bar coding going," Mullen says.

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