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White Datamatrix Codes MIL-STD-130

Printing White Barcode on Black Polyester LabelsThere are times when the old faithful black barcode on white label just doesn’t work. UID marking applications is one good example. Often the product does not lend itself to have a white or silver label and a black durable label makes much more sense.

So if you need to print white barcodes for your UID items, what would you need to get started and what do you need to know to ensure success?

Well, first of all you need to start off with a good quality durable label.

Our Winco Black Polyester labels are specially engineered to meet the requirements of MIL-STD-130 and other specifications that demand high durability. Our label starts off as a white polyester material and we floodcoat it black on one of our presses. The next step is to apply a durable printable laminate over the black ink layer. This ensures that both the black ink is well protected and gives us a substrate to print on one of our label printers.

The photo above shows the set up for a label I was printing for a client today (I’ve just changed the logo and the other info on the label). The printer is a Datamax H-Class (we have several of these, in 300, 400 and 600 dots per inch resolutions, and they work very hard in our in-house printing operation.) The thermal transfer ribbon is a white resin type. Using resin-based ribbons is essential for UID applications because the print needs to be as durable as possible.

Assuming you have the right printer model, along with high quality labels and white ribbons, you are ready to get the label designed.


I like to use BarTender label design software and I’d design the label just as I would any other UID label. Just remember that everything that shows on your monitor in black will be printed in white on the finished label.

The only thing I do differently to normal is that I select White on Black in the Datamatrix properties when designing the barcode.

If I didn’t do this, the printed barcode would be an inverse of what we usually see – the borders of the code would be white instead in of black and each little square element would be the opposite to the usual way.

In many cases this doesn’t matter, the Datamatrix code will still verify OK and most barcode scanners can read these inverse barcodes. However, not all scanners can so choosing the White on Black option eliminates any possibly of the Datamatrix code not being scannable.

Selecting the White on Black option, causes the barcode to be printed the conventional way, sitting on a white square that is just a little larger than the barcode itself. Any barcode scanner that can scan a standard Datamatrix code should now be able to scan your white one, right out of the box.

As with many of the ideas I mention on Labeling News, this is one I learned the hard way. After printing (and successfully verifying) a set of labels for a client, he wasn’t able to scan them with his particular barcode scanner. Switching the barcode to White on Black mode solved the problem.

Needless to say, I always print the white barcodes this way now!

Do you have the need to produce black labels with white text or barcodes? We’d be happy to help you make it a success – just call me at 603-598-1553 to get started!

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  1. E.J. Porche says:

    Great article! Thanks for the advice. Where would I get Aerospace durable ribbons?

  2. David Holliday says:

    can help with that. Where are you located?

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