Is blockchain 3D printing’s guardian angel?

Nowadays, wherever there is an opportunity for technology to boost efficiency or lower costs in businesses, there is a new cybersecurity threat to even out the benefits.

3D printers are as vulnerable as any other connected componen

That’s especially true in the coming age of ‘Industry 4.0’, where the introduction of new, connected IT alongside legacy equipment can bring its own set of unforeseen vulnerabilities.

Forecast to be worth US$21 billion by 2021, 3D printing is becoming a key component in next-gen manufacturing. Today, brands as large and diverse as Boeing and Heineken are using the process of additive manufacturing to create bespoke parts overnight.

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Identify3D updates software suite for secure distributed manufacturing

Digital supply chain software company Identify3D is introducing its latest suite of software solutions to enable manufacturers to facilitate additive manufacturing and decentralize manufacturing models. The software update addresses intellectual property protection, manufacturing repeatability and traceability in order to secure the digital manufacturing process from ever-evolving security threats.

Identify3D software suite

The software suite includes Identify3D Protect, Identify3D Manage and Identify3D Enforce applications, which together offer a comprehensive and encompassing solution for protecting the digital supply chain.

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GE Research pioneers quantum-secure Blockchain Network for 3D printing

GE Research has developed a quantum-secure Blockchain Network for 3D printing which is capable of managing digital transactions, from powder to finished part. The novel technology was recently recognized by the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) which awarded GE Research a 2019 Manufacturing Leadership Award for Supply Chain Leadership.

GE Research Blockchain quantum-secure

As a mostly digital-driven process, additive manufacturing can benefit greatly from a blockchain-enabled supply chain, which offers an effective framework for securely managing additive manufacturing transactions for critical industrial parts.

In industries such as aerospace and energy especially, where critical metal components designed specifically for AM are produced, a sophisticated, secure and reliable system must be established for every step of the supply chain, from powder, to manufacturing floor, to post-processing.

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Dangerous side of 3D printing technology

Indian law prohibits owning a firearm without a proper license. Similarly, the US law forbids the purchase of guns by convicted felons.

On May 6, 2013, a video surfaced on the internet showing a young man in blue jeans and a black polo shirt firing a single bullet from an off-white, plastic 380 single-shot pistol called “the Liberator”, fabricated by him with a Stratasys 3D printer bought on eBay. That young man was Cody Wilson – a Texan law student, who overnight turned into a cult figure and garnered headlines worldwide. After test firing, Wilson published the blueprints of the gun’s design online, which was downloaded in excess of 120,000 times in two days. Following this, the US Department of State clobbered a restraint order against Wilson and his company ‘Defense Distributed’ which was overturned in August this year, allowing him to once again freely publish designs of 3D printed guns and share the same with one and all on the internet. 

These blueprints would potentially allow anyone with a 3D printer to make an untraceable, unregulated gun at home.

These blueprints would potentially allow anyone with a 3D printer to make an untraceable, unregulated gun at home. The 3D blueprints are today also available on several CAD (computer-aided design) repository sites and can also be downloaded for free from torrent sites. Thirty seconds of googling are all one would need to fish out these files. It’s kind of creepy to envisage that in our country today, we have no clue as to how many of our citizens possess a 3D printer, how many of them have downloaded the blueprints of 3D guns and how many of them are in possession of 3D printed guns?

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Major 3D-printing breakthrough could keep design pirates at bay

Trying to prove who designed and built what in 3D printing was envisaged as costly to major manufacturers, until now.

The amazing aspect of 3D printing is that anyone, anywhere, with the right equipment, can print and build an object almost identical to an already existing one.

A clear 3D-printed dome containing a variety of dummy and real QR codes.

While this sounds great in theory, for major manufacturers it creates one major headache: how do you prove a design is yours?

Not only that, but what liability does a company have if someone steals its design, creates a poorly made copy and it leads to a major accident?

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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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