DPM Scanning or I Wish I Was An Astronaut

Like a lot of kids, I wanted to be an astronaut when I grew up. Flying through space in a giant rocket ship, cruising past big beautiful planets and eating all the dehydrated ice cream you could fit in a small plastic pouch, who wouldn’t want that?

As with most people, my dreams of spaceflight were dashed when I learned that you had to be in peak physical shape (requiring glasses meant I was an automatic “Sorry, kid, but no space for you!”), had to be a bit of a math genius and could withstand being spun around a centrifuge at many miles an hour. Just watching someone else spin around in that thing made me so dizzy I need to sit down. No rocket ships for me.

One thing that always makes me think of what it must be like being an astronaut is 3D bar codes. I know, I know, it’s a bit of a stretch but bear with me here. The very first place I had ever heard of Direct Part Marking (or 3D bar codes, the terms are used pretty interchangeably) was when NASA released updated standards for the way they required aerospace parts to be marked. They stipulate that parts going into the expensive space shuttles and orbiter programs must be given bar codes that are applied physically, to ensure that the parts can be easily identified and tracked, even in situations, or during accidents, when a traditional paper or ink bar code would be ripped or burned off. Whether this is done through electrochemical etching, metal forging, plastic molds or other means, we call this DPM bar coding.

Many companies do this too, allowing them to track their parts and supplies throughout the entire “life cycle” of that object. You will see these throughout the auto industry (who use DPM scanning for much the same reason that NASA does), on tools you purchase at the hardware store, on firearms (as required by the ATF and the Department of Defense), and in a large number of manufacturing settings.

Your company may, at this very minute, be receiving a shipment of doohickeys destined to fit inside the Whatsits that you manufacture and ship out every day. Up to now, it has been the job of an employee (or several) to sit down and manually enter the serial numbers from each of these doohickeys because none of the bar code scanners in the warehouse were designed to read metal etchings. AbeTech can help you make this process far more efficient, and therefore more cost effective, by determining what your 3D scanning needs may be so that the doohickeys can be quickly entered into inventory and tracked throughout their use within your company. Contact one of our specialists today to find out if a DPM scanner could be used to streamline your processes!

So, whenever I come across a bar code that has been acid-etched, forged in metal, embossed, laser marked or molded into a product or part, I think “Just like NASA does it!” Sure, it’s a small thing, but when the highest you’ve ever piloted something is that time you got a sled to go flying over a three-foot snow ramp, you sort of have to take what you can get. I may not have gotten to experience floating in a vacuum, but at least I can track exactly where my car’s vacuum pump came from!

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