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H][RO
Bipolar (III) Inmate

From: Australia
Insane since: Oct 2002

posted posted 12-13-2005 15:01

Hi all, i have a client that wants to redesign some labels he has for some stands - pretty basic b/w stuff except for the barcodes.

I am wondering - can I design these files in something like illustrator and just draw the barcodes manually? Or do you need special software for it etc?

I know how barcode reading works with the line thickness etc, but im unsure about the production of the barcode itself.

Any thoughts would be much appreciated - thanks.

DL-44
Maniac (V) Inmate

From: under the bed
Insane since: Feb 2000

posted posted 12-13-2005 15:18

I wouldn't say that I have desinged with barcodes, but I have needed to make use of barcodes plenty.

There are a ton of freeware barcode generators out there - a visit to download.com should yield plenty of good results. I also make use of this free online barcode generator from time to time -
http://www.unibar.com/ebarz/free-barcode.asp

I wouldn't recommend trying to draw them out manually....that's far more haslle than it's worth.

H][RO
Bipolar (III) Inmate

From: Australia
Insane since: Oct 2002

posted posted 12-14-2005 01:18

Ahh thanks for that, will see if i can find a vector based one. Are barcodes a fixed width or can they be scaled? I would have though there would be some indicator line which sets the scale, but maybe readers arent that smart!

H][RO
Bipolar (III) Inmate

From: Australia
Insane since: Oct 2002

posted posted 12-14-2005 05:00

DL any idea with the width? I cant seem to find an answer anywhere. Looks like ill be buying some somftware to make them and the client will cover the cost.

Its still a very grey area for me, alot of sites say to use WMF format for barcodes, but if im getting it printed they need a single black color im not sure how this effects things.

Too many questions and i cant seem to find the answers

DL-44
Maniac (V) Inmate

From: under the bed
Insane since: Feb 2000

posted posted 12-14-2005 15:04

They are definitely scaleable. I believe it's a matter of proportion as opposed to absolute width, but I'm not sure.

I can say that even a poor quality photocopy, scaled both up and down, will still read just fine.

I don't know the details of all the different barcode formats, but the format will be important - make sure to get whatever details you can about what format they currently use.

H][RO
Bipolar (III) Inmate

From: Australia
Insane since: Oct 2002

posted posted 12-14-2005 15:11

Thanks yeh it seems they are, as long as the widths are relative. Obviously the scanner can work it out just fine =/.. The barcode format itself is fine, just trying to work out the print format - im sure the scanners arent tooo picky tho! well i hope :P

hyperbole
Paranoid (IV) Inmate

From: Madison, Indiana, USA
Insane since: Aug 2000

posted posted 12-14-2005 17:35

Like DL-44 said, the best thing to do is create the barcodes with barcode software.

Barcode scanners are pretty forgiving about the size and shape of the barcode. The one thing to watch out for is they have real problems reading through plastic or from a shiny surface. Try to make sure the barcode is printed on a matte surface.

.



-- not necessarily stoned... just beautiful.

NoJive
Maniac (V) Inmate

From: The Land of one Headlight on.
Insane since: May 2001

posted posted 12-14-2005 20:21

Is this a "Universal" barcode or a barcode for in-house purposes?

If it's 'Universal'....ideally you want to run off a test sheet on your clients printer and labels and take that to a store to test. Talk to the store manager or someone in a position of authority...explain what it is you're doing and that you want to test the barcodes just to make sure they're being read correctly.

That's what I did a few years back when I had to make a ton of barcodes for a line of food products. I tested them on several different scanners and the stores were very cooperative.

I also scaled them down. That is... I'd take one barcode and print them at different sizes just to see how small they could get before the scanner wouldn't read them.

As I recall two things that were rather critical. 'White space' around the barcode itself and 'Bleeding' and of course the surface as hyperbole mentioned.

If the barcode is for in-house stock keeping purposes your client can do the testing.

H][RO
Bipolar (III) Inmate

From: Australia
Insane since: Oct 2002

posted posted 12-14-2005 23:00

Yeh its a EAN-13 type barcode which will be used internationally and overseas in many stores, my client sells the product with the barcodes on them. The problem in, and this is why im particuarly "nervous" about it is that they are being printed overseas in China, its bad enough doing print work when the printer is around the corner - but oversease could turn out to be a nightmare!

By the sounds of it, it might not be a problem - but i have told him he will need to get a proof done of each tag and have them tested with a barcode reader, otherwise he will have to deal with any extra reprinting costs.

I am considering however, buying myself a cheapish usb CCD barcode scanner then I can test them - but i would still rather test on the final overseas proof as their print settings could be different. Again it doesnt sound like its tooo sensitive so if i can read it from my desktop printer im sure the final print should be fine... well i hope ;/

NoJive
Maniac (V) Inmate

From: The Land of one Headlight on.
Insane since: May 2001

posted posted 12-14-2005 23:51
quote:
my desktop printer



This is where you have to be careful with the 'bleeding' I mentioned. If it's an inkjet, the smaller the barcode, the more likely you will run into problems with bleeding which most certainly will cause problems for the scanners. Get yourself a good magnifying glass... the problem will become obvious.

If you know someone with a laser printer...print the barcodes on that and then do the test.

NoJive
Maniac (V) Inmate

From: The Land of one Headlight on.
Insane since: May 2001

posted posted 12-15-2005 02:50

If you do get a barcode reader here's another use for it.

quote:
hahaha you guys are WEAK we have a walk in dvd CLOSET and it has 1900 dvds approx. we scan them onto the our computer using a barcode scanner then we can keep track of how many and hwat movies we have.

Found while 'searching' for 'surplus barcode scanners' which you might want to checkout before buying one.

H][RO
Bipolar (III) Inmate

From: Australia
Insane since: Oct 2002

posted posted 12-15-2005 06:56

Haha yeh i was thinking what else i could do with a barcode scanner :P - just catalog my house lol...

Yeh if i was to test on the desktop i would do a high quality print on good paper, i have a decent 8 color a3 printer which doesnt do much bleed at the good settings.

Looks like the client is happy to take the risk anyhow and just get them printed OS, he isnt sure if they proof or test the barcodes. Worst case it means the store has to manually enter the numbers - its a pain sure but at least its a safety net in some way.

My only thoughts now are what format to use from my barcode program, some have said WMF is best but i dont know how well that goes in illustrator and ive heard it only supports rgb. So im thinking just use tiff, surely it would be okay.

H][RO
Bipolar (III) Inmate

From: Australia
Insane since: Oct 2002

posted posted 12-16-2005 15:20

Well tried the barcode prog i was gonna buy but not real happy. I can export tiffs etc, but if i want to do single color printing its not really that useful as they all turn out cmyk. And when i export them to pdf if i zoom in i can seethat its not super accurate, it makes a black line, a lighter black line and then the white space. Wheras it shoudl be solid black then white.

Tried wmf also, it was better when exporting to pdf, kept the color black - 2 problems however, it seems to scale it a bit in the pdf such that the 1:1 black:white lines werent 1:1 anymore and again its black i cant change the color to a process color.

So i had a look around and found a plugin for indesign, a plugin that makes barcodes within indesign in VECTORS - finally!... So itried it out and its great, works perfectly and produces full vector outlines. Theoretically this should produce the most accurate barcodes.

Anyhow hope this helps anyone else who travels down this path!

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