3D printing is transforming everything from fashion and health care to transportation and toys. But this rapidly evolving technology, also known as additive manufacturing, can threaten national security and intellectual property rights.
To reduce illicit use of 3D printers, Zhanpeng Jin, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at the University at Buffalo, is developing a way to track the origin of 3D-printed items.
His concern was that, as long as people have the digital design for an item, which can be downloaded from the internet, sometimes as open-source material, people can print out anything they want, which can range from computer parts and toys to fully functional handguns and assault rifles.
“So, what would be the best way to protect our intellectual property from someone else printing the same design using their own printer?” says Jin. “We wanted to find something internal. What would be the inherent signatures printed by my own 3D printer instead of another 3D printer?”…