No matter the specific process, additive manufacturing (AM) can’t exist without a digital stream of data. From 3D CAD design through to final inspection, computer files define the intellectual property (IP) of the part itself, the build set-up, process settings, any monitoring steps, and complete provenance.
In this age of hacking and cyber attacks, manufacturers must consider whether this data is vulnerable to being stolen, misused or purposely corrupted. One company tackling this problem is Identify3D, founded in 2014 and about to launch a trio of targeted software tools in Q1 2018.
Stephan Thomas, co-founder/chief strategy officer, Identify3D, says he met Joe Inkenbrandt, the other company co-founder/CEO, at a business lecture. Thomas comes from a background of supply chains and operations and Inkenbrandt is experienced with IT security. Thomas notes, “I was fascinated by the potential supply-chain problems that AM could solve, i.e., the benefits of decentralized manufacturing, and Joe was already thinking about IP protection in additive.”
Recently news channels have been rife with stories about hacking and data losses concerning all manner of information, from alleged CIA intelligence tools to people’s medical records. As 3D printing moves into mainstream manufacturing of end parts, and as those parts are destined for strategically important uses, whether for aircraft or for key products in a company’s portfolio, the threat of malicious interference has to be taken seriously. Already research has found that it is possible to embed weaknesses in 3D printed items that would pass currently known testing. This is indeed a real and tangible risk and needs to be managed accordingly.
Ralph Resnick, President and Executive Director, National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining (NCDMM) and Founding Director of America Makes, takes a closer look at this topic.
With increased shop floor connectivity, Manufacturing 4.0 and the introduction of Chinese industrial Additive Manufacturing systems coming to the US market, what should we really be preparing for?
Cyber security risk in manufacturing – the risk of being hacked – is growing. In fact, reports show that in recent years more US manufacturers are getting targeted by cyber threats than energy companies who have traditionally been primary targets. The recent trend to increase connectivity on the shop floor, between supply chains and the use of ‘smart’ tools and mobile applications to drive productivity and growth only increase and accelerate the possibility of those risks. And yet, manufacturers in general are not well-prepared to deal with them and many industrial environments were not designed with cybersecurity in mind – after all, manufacturing was not a target, right?
3D printing has made significant inroads in the enterprise. It offers an efficient way to prototype ideas, generate samples and build products, but it presents new challenges for admins.
3D printing technology is still relatively young, and it comes with a unique set of challenges — along with a hefty price tag. But as prices drop and technology improves, 3D printing opens the door to new opportunities for innovating and conducting business.
With a drop in material and machine prices, advanced software integration and faster printing, 3D printing could potentially revolutionize automotive production, supply chain and the aftermarket, according to Frost & Sullivan.
The application scope of 3D printing technology is currently restricted to the production of extremely low volume parts and production tooling, the firm says. This is mainly due to the high costs of the machinery and raw materials, slow printing speeds and reduced levels of software optimization.
New analysis from the firm finds that the technology will generate $4.3 billion from the automotive industry by 2025, and achieve deeper penetration in automotive production and the aftermarket. As a result, 3D printing could deliver substantial savings to manufacturers, suppliers and consumers.