Is it time for 3D Printing to Adopt Blockchain Technology?
Tahreem Jamadar | December 28, 2021
What is 3D Printing?
3D Printing is a process by which almost any physical object can be created by depositing layers based on a digital model. All the software, hardware and the materials need to work in unison for all the 3D Printing processes.
3D printing technology can be used to create everything from prototypes and simple parts to highly technical final products such as airplane parts, artificial body organs.
3D Printing is gaining momentum for mass manufacturing production gradient parts and the scale of adopting 3D Printing technology can only go higher. To overcome security issues, 3D Printing technology needs to adopt the blockchain. The 3D printing process is linear, but it’s not single or seamless. A 3D-printing process passes through many stages starting from concept, to CAD file, to generate design, and final to an actual 3D print. Each of these steps represents a point of vulnerability in which a 3D print can be corrupted or even stolen, putting the company’s intellectual property at risk.
Why there is an increasing need for high end security in 3D Printing?
Is it time for 3D Printing to Adopt Blockchain Technology? Research has already shown 3D printing has a growing need for cybersecurity. In 2016, researchers from the University of California found out an approach in which a 3D printer can be hacked by recording the sounds a 3D Printer makes, they have successfully hacked the system and stole the source code that is used to produce 3D printed parts.
In another research, a PC connected to a 3D printer was hacked and the researchers were able to make secret alterations to the 3D printing files for a drone that caused its propellor to fail mid-flight
So how does blockchain address all of this?
A Blockchain is like a diary that is almost impossible to forge. Blockchain works by creating a distributed, encrypted ledger across any number of parties that can be used to verify not only identities but also the status of any particular job. That means every node involved in any stage of a 3D print is aware of what all the others are doing at any time safely and securely. Since a blockchain is decentralized, meaning no single node owns it, stealing or altering a 3D printed file from a blockchain is not about tricking a single computer or printer – but to hack every node that was a part of that particular chain, which is practically impossible. Furthermore, because the blockchain technology is decentralized it becomes immutable and cannot be erased. As a result of the Bitcoin and several cryptocurrencies, Blockchain technology has become popular and 3D printing holds an interesting extra layer in that as this deals with physical products.