Industrial giant GE eyes blockchain in fight against 3D-printed fakes

Industrial conglomerate General Electric (GE) wants to use a blockchain to verify 3D-printed parts in its supply chain, according to a recently-published patent filing.

Released by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) on June 21 and submitted last December, the application outlines a method for integrating blockchains into additive manufacturing – commonly known as 3-D printing – to create a database that validates and verifies the  manufacturing process.

In other words, the technology would enable the company to create a blockchain-based manufacturing history that can help with tracking and authenticating 3D-printed objects.

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Could 3D printing threaten national security?

Not a day goes by without a story on a new advance or application in 3-D printing technology. While the technology promises cost and manufacturing benefits for many consumer, industrial, and medical parts, there’s concerns the technology might also get into the hands of adversaries building weapons to use against countries.

That’s the conclusion of a new RAND Corporation paper that suggests the access to additive manufacturing could enable military adversaries, violent extremists and even street criminals to easily produce their own weapons for use and sale.

Moreover, the study noted that 3-D printing technology is susceptible to hacking, which could enable hackers to maliciously instruct 3-D printers to introduce flawed instructions or algorithms into mission-critical parts of airplanes.

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3D printing could ‘increase the risk of violence and murder’, group warns

The RAND Corporation has published a paper discussing the threat of 3D-printed weapons and other items, which it argues could put global, national and personal security at risk.

3D printer extruderThe issue of 3D-printed weapons came to prominence in 2012, when Defense Distributed – a US-based group – announced that it would design a working gun which could be manufactured by anybody owning a 3D printer. After Defense Distributed posted its first blueprint for the gun online, the US Department of State demanded that it must be removed, although guns can still be printed using patterns lingering on file sharing websites.

Since then, the threat of such easily accessible and difficult to regulate firearms has been discussed in the US and elsewhere.

Now, a RAND Corporation paper, Additive Manufacturing in 2040: Powerful Enabler, Disruptive Threat, has laid out in detail the potential dangers of 3D printing, including its exploitation by military foes, extremists and street gangs. The growth of 3D printing could “significantly accelerate weapon proliferation and have dramatic effects on international conflict, violent extremism and even everyday crime,” the report said.

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3D Printing could be blockchain’s true game-changer

After multiple proofs of concept, pilots and early rollouts, supply chain management is emerging as the killer app for enterprise blockchain technology, the very first to be “going live” – to cite the theme of this year’s Consensus conference.

But while multiple blockchain projects worldwide are demonstrating how smart contracts, data sharing protocols and cryptographic traceability can unlock trade finance, improve risk management, streamline customs processing and boost transparency, the biggest change for global trade is yet to come.

That will be when the Internet of Things, 3D printing and other automating technologies finally free manufacturing from the constraints of geography. At that moment, blockchain technology could come into its own, enabling an entirely new paradigm of decentralized, on-demand production and forcing a realignment of global economic power.

Reaching this new paradigm requires advances in all these technologies. But just as importantly, it will require manufacturers to adopt a more open-minded approach toward optimizing the balance between competition and collaboration and toward the role that blockchains can play in finding that.

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Connecting digital models to the real world: Building trust in 3D Printing

rize-augmented-0518-webIn this age of the digital twin, Rize, Inc. is using its innovative 3D printing ink feature to reconnect physical objects with its digital record.

By now, we all know the advantages of 3D printing parts. From prototypes to end-use parts, you can make anything you need, anytime you need it… so long as it fits in the build area. There are no geometrical restrictions, no limits to complexity—the extruder will manifest anything your CAD skills allow you to design, from spherical latticed doodads to spiraling, Escher-inspired blocks. Plus it also lets you get by with a virtual inventory, as a reserve can be created on-demand.

The process isn’t quite as easy hitting the old Windows command, CTRL + P to spit out part, at least not yet. The problem is, like when a conventional 2D printer converts the digital to physical, growing a brand new 3D-printed part has an unavoidable consequence.

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3D Printing: Built-In Trust

In this age of the digital twin, Rize, Inc. is using its innovative 3D printing ink feature to reconnect physical objects with its digital record.

By now, we all know the advantages of 3D printing parts. From prototypes to end-use parts, you can make anything you need, anytime you need it… so long as it fits in the build area. There are no geometrical restrictions, no limits to complexity—the extruder will manifest anything your CAD skills allow you to design, from spherical latticed doodads to spiraling, Escher-inspired blocks. Plus it also lets you get by with a virtual inventory, as a reserve can be created on-demand.

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LINK3D announces first integration of blockchain technology for 3D printing

link3d-blockchain.png

At RAPID + TCT last week, additive manufacturing (AM) software solutions company, LINK3D announced the first ever integration of blockchain technology for AM in its flagship SaaS product, Digital Factory.

Building on the need for a traceable digital thread throughout the full AM workflow, LINK3D says the need for file integrity and traceability is a priority for AM processes. The integration will offer data governance, provenance, auditability and validation through a range of applications including:

  1. File integration, IP integrity, DRM: Blockchain technology can be used to track origination of each design file and its evolution.
  2. Facility matching / authentication: Service Bureau capability can be stored on Blockchain and orders can be pre-verified.
  3. Supply chain and logistics tracking: Once the part is shipped, the package can be tracked to ensure that it is opened by the correct parties.
  4. Real-time data from machines: Logs from machine can be stored in an immutable way for forensics during recalls and for traceability.

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Identify3D partners with SLM Solutions for end-to-end additive manufacturing security

A big concern for anyone in the 3D printing industry is intellectual property security. When you’re working with digital supply chains there are unique risks, but fortunately dedicated companies have arisen with the purpose of securing those supply chains and protecting that intellectual property. One of those companies is Identify3D, a San Francisco-based software provider for digital manufacturing security, quality and traceability. Identify3D won the formnext Startup Challenge last year, showing itself to be a promising company addressing multiple urgent needs in today’s industry.

Identify3D is now collaborating with SLM Solutions, a leading supplier of metal 3D printing technology. Identify3D will provide a solution for data protection along with contractual and manufacturing licensing from design to production on SLM Solutions’ laser melting machines. This solution will secure all data in the engineering phase, allowing SLM Solutions to secure digital IP, enforce production rules and provide traceability in the digital supply chain at the industry’s highest standard.

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LINK3D integrates blockchain technology and industrial 3D printing for the first time

We’ve been seeing increased interest in incorporating Blockchain technology into the 3D printing world over the last couple of years, from being used in a military testing capacity to storing data of 3D printed aircraft parts. Blockchain, the underlying technology of decentralized cryptocurrency Bitcoin, is a set of records (blocks), that hold transactional data. In a secure transfer, important financial information, like recipient details, are then stored within the data set. Innovative companies all over the world are sitting up and taking notice, including LINK3D, which develops industrial 3D printing software to help organizations working to adopt Industry 4.0.

This fall, the AM software company, headquartered in New York City, introduced Digital Factory, its flagship, cloud-based SaaS (Software as a Service) that allows engineering companies to automatically manage all of their 3D printing processes for increased efficiency. Now LINK3D is announcing the first integration of blockchain technology for industrial 3D printing.

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Treatstock gives further insights into watermark safeguard for 3D printing

From creation to manufacturing, protecting the IP of a 3D design is challenging, especially when an STL file can be so easily shared from peer to peer. Watermark, a security application from 3D design library Treatstock aims to address this.

Speaking to 3D Printing Industry, Treatstock head of marketing Rufat Bayramov said that the company was inspired by the “prevalent issue of copyright violation” to develop the free online software.

Treatstock Watermark allows a designer to upload an STL file and integrate it with hidden “watermark” information before being put in the public domain. An STL file can also be uploaded to the platform and checked for security information.

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