By David Callif, President of BCM INKS
Six months ago, I started to receive emails from my son, Rob, BCM’s VP, which contained odd looking hieroglyphics. I didn’t want to show my ignorance so I began an internet search.
Much to my surprise, I found that Rob was using one of the most exciting examples of new technology. Technology that our industry will soon see on graphic packages, POP, and other types of communication. This new technology is the QR code.
What is a QR code?
A QR code (abbreviation for Quick Response Code) is a specific matrix barcode (or a two dimensional code) that is readable by a QR code reader app for smart phones, tablets, etc. These codes were developed by a Japanese company in the mid ‘90s as a means to track parts for the automotive industry. The code consists of black modules arranged in a square pattern on white background. The information encoded may be text, URL, or other data that are free and easy to generate. Some popular QR code generators are Kaywa or QR Stuff.
A QR code is a new way for customers and prospects to reach a web page, a location, or obtain information about products and services. Add a QR code containing contact information to your business card and someone can add you to their contact list by reading the QR code. Add a QR code to individual products on your website and enable customers or prospects to download product details and a phone number for ordering, or link to a YouTube video. Add a QR code to a corrugated package to take the recipient directly to the website of the business offering the product or service.
QR code vs. barcode
A QR code can store information vertically and horizontally. Therefore, a QR code can hold up to 7089 characters while a typical barcode holds a maximum of 20 digits. In addition, QR codes take up about one-tenth the space of a barcode. This ability to hold a great deal of information in a small space is what makes the QR codes so valuable.
QR codes are quite common in Japan and their use is growing in Europe. In the United States, QR codes are just beginning to appear but are expected to spread rapidly. A QR code may be applied to many substrates – paper, plastic, even cloth – and on many surfaces, including curved ones – walls, floors, billboards, and t-shirts. About the only limitation is ensuring that the QR code is of sufficient resolution to be read by the mobile phone or other device.
If you haven’t already run across QR codes on a package or display, you will soon.
A key to your successful print is your printing plate. Just as you have worked with your printing plate suppliers to develop readable barcodes, you will need to do the same with QR codes.
The inks you use will also play an important role. BCM Inks can help minimize the potential pitfalls and work with you and your plate supplier and sales force to maximize the possibilities of QR codes.
If you would like to learn more about QR codes or comment about this article, please email me at email@example.com.
P.S. A special thanks to Gwyn Adams, owner of the Village Print & Web in Cincinnati, for introducing me to some of the information included in this article.
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See Scott Miller’s article “Spot on Brand Colors” in the May/June issue of BoxScore