Columbia Marking Tools – Home of the Square ◙ Dot®
Columbia Marking Tools, Inc. has a U.S. Patent and Trademark on their programmable CNC scribe marking machine technology. The patent relates to scribes marking a (2D) machine readable code onto hard materials. Two-dimensional (2D) barcodes look like squares or rectangles that contain many small, individual dots. A single 2D barcode can hold a significant amount of information and may remain legible even when printed at a small size or etched onto a product. The trademark for the marking technology is Square ◙ Dot®.
The basic design of the programmable CNC (2D) barcode marking system utilizes an x-y-z axes slide arrangement that is driven through precise linear ball screws. Standard machines are all electric but air-operated units are also available for extra deep marks. The scribe head, mounted on a plate that is linked to the slides, uses a diamond stylus to quietly scribe text or graphics into hard or soft surfaces producing fully-formed lines, curves, and in this case, (2D) barcodes. The control of the head movement is provided by a programmable controller that interfaces with standard Windows® systems using special software which allows the user to create the (2D) barcodes.
The key element of the patent is the ability of the Square ◙ Dot® scribe marking system to, in essence, displace material in a manner leaving a specifically recessed area formed of grooves and surrounded by ridges of displaced material that to the eye, or a camera, look like round dot-like indentations. These grooves and ridges form a very reflective multifaceted data cell with extremely high contrast between the grooves and the unscribed surface to enable a vision system to clearly and accurately distinguish where the grooves are, even in the presence of extraneous interfering marks or deposits.
By interfacing the highly-accurate movement of the scribe head and x-y axes with CNC control, Square ◙ Dot® 2D matrix codes can be marked at very high speed with Grade “A” readability, the highest standard rating, equivalent to 1,200 reads per second with no variations.
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