24/7 Customer Service (800) 927-7671

How Exactly Will 3D Printing Combat Counterfeiting Additive Manufactured Products?

by • February 4, 2016 • No Comments

The top Louis Vuitton clutch is fake.

The top Louis Vuitton clutch is fake.

The specter of counterfeit products is always a concern for any company that relies on other facilities to in fact manufacture and assemble their products. From fake Rolex watches to fake iPhones to fake Louis Vuitton purses, sizeable companies often spend millions to preserve their intellectual property of criminals who copy and sell fake products to often unsuspecting consumers. Whilst it can be effortless to be anti-corporate and turn a blind eye to this kind of theft, especially when the companies are sizeable and incredibly profitable, their concern goes far beyond the future loss of profits. The fact is, many counterfeit products are vastly inferior to the real thing, and if a consumer does not understand that they are purchasing a fake and so the company not only has a lost sale, but their reputation can take a hit based on a thing that they didn’t actually create.

Even as 3D printing continues to grow into a valid and profitable alternative manufacturing method to injection molding or sizeable-scale weight production, there are yet companies that see the threat of counterfeiting as a reason to stall the adversion of 3D printing innovation. Realistically there is not much that can be done of pirated 3D versions and people via home 3D printing devices to manufacture fake products. Combating individual piracy has been woefully ineffective for the entertainment industry, and most most likely only encouraged extra
users to download electronic files illegally. It stands to reason that going after individual pirates can work only as well if the 3D printing industry manufactures an take on to over-regulate and control the flow of 3D printable files.

DRM on 3D printable files is most most likely not going to be an effective deterrent.

DRM on 3D printable files is most most likely not going to be an effective deterrent.

Many of the solutions that are being floated as counter-counterfeiting meacertains don’t really seem especially feasible or sustainable. Adding DRM (digital rights management) or unlock code needments to 3D files may slow down a few users, but only as with DRM efforts on movies and video games, if a fewone can put a lock on a thing, a fewone can take that same lock off and teach others how to do it as well. These efforts may work in the short term, as the pool of users who are capable of breaking DRM on 3D printable files is tinyer in size, and there is not really an outlet to disperse those illegal files yet. But as the industry grows it is going to be harder and harder for companies to control their intellectual property via these methods. I’m not really certain that there is much to be done on this end of the industry. Besides, there is an actually greater counterfeiting problem brewing on the manufacturing side of the industry and it is far extra
significant than individual piracy at any time may be.

Counterfeit bolts.

Counterfeit bolts.

As with fake weight-created consumer goods, weight-created industrial parts are in addition counterfeited really often. It may be extra
informative to talk of fake purses, but a greater threat is products like fake screws, bolts, fittings and individual components. Many of the parts that are utilized to create our homes, businesses, vehicles and quite own electronics use weight-created components that manufacturers just purchase in incredibly sizeable quantities. And all of those parts are held to quite strict manufacturing guidelines that dictate how they can be utilized, what their maximum stress tolerances are and how they can be expected to perform.

When these types of components are forged, they are rarely created with the same high end of materials and often don’t actually come close to performing as needd. If these fake parts find their way ununderstandingly into the hands of manufacturers, who create products with these components’ manufacturing guidelines in mind, and so the results may be catastrophic. There have been instances of airplanes and automobiles that have crashed due to the failure of lower high end, counterfeit parts. Buildings and homes are in addition at risk due to poor high end and counterfeited construction materials being utilized. It may seem odd, but cheaply created products that do not pass strict regulations are a massive business and lives can be lost to it.

3D printed Nike shoes with embedded InfraStructs.

3D printed Nike shoes with embedded InfraStructs.

With 3D printed components becoming extra
common, and actuallytually expected to be incredibly common, counterfeit parts can pose a real risk. Implementing DRM, actually if it was effective on a tiny scale, to practuallyt machines of manufacturing unauthorized parts is not going to matter when these parts can just be 3D scanned and recreated without the need for the original 3D version. The methods that need to be created to combat this type of industrial counterfeiting can need to work in ways that DRM nat any time can and select the specific physical object as auand sotic. There are a few various methods that are already being proposed, with varying probabilities of good results.

The many most likely version can be that include RFID tags on 3D printed components that can select an object as the real thing. The thought is that any part that does not have an embedded RFID device in it — and they can easily be created tiny adequate to easily be inserted within of a 3D printed part — can instantly be synonymous as fake. The downside of this method is price, as the RFID tags themselves may be costly, as may the labor involved in inserting them. Testing for tags can in addition need specialized equipment that adds extra
cost to the auand sotication system. It is possible that a 3D printable material that may act as a tag called InfraStructs may be created, but that may mean developing multiple materials that can be RFID reactive, that can be really costly on the development side.

Subsurface fingerprinting with InfraTrac.

Subsurface fingerprinting with InfraTrac.

One other auand sotication version may be chemically tagging materials that can be detected with a handheld spectrometer. There are multiple companies providing these types of materials, but the many promising is a technique created by InfraTrac. The Maryland-based company has created a chemical that can be discreetly introduced to virtually anything without altering the chemical manufactureup of the material. For instance, parts can be 3D printed with a tiny subsurface “fingerprint” hidden in a discrete location. That mark alone may be printed with the material that has been treated with the chemical, and may easily select the part as genuine. The material may in addition be printed as a single layer of the print with no mark, and no risk of altering the integrity of the part. Of course again this comes with it the need for specialized equipment in the form of the spectrometer and an actual machine that can 3D print with the standard material and the 2nd, tagged material.

One thing is quite clear, there is a desire for additive manufacturing to be created as an alternative to other weight production methods. That means the companies looking to use 3D printing to manufacture parts, and the 3D printing industry itself, are going to need to address the problem sooner pretty than later. Determining that of these versions is the thoughtl solution can not be an effortless choice, as they both bring with them extra
costs and challenges, but doing nothing just is not an version. Discuss your thoughts on this topic in the Counterfeited 3D Printed Parts forum over at 3DPB.com.