New York, US: LINK3D, an additive manufacturing (AM) software company headquartered in New York City which helps businesses leverage Industry 4.0, announced its first integration of blockchain technology for industrial 3D printing in April 2018.
Prior to this integration, a seamless thread of data to assist in all aspects of the 3D printing workflow—from conceptualisation and design to final production and delivery—did not exist. However, in 3D printing processes, file integrity and traceability are vital—areas in which blockchain can be useful.
In late 2017, the software company had launched Digital Factory—its flagship, cloud-based Software as a Service that assists engineering firms in automatically managing their 3D printing processes to boost efficiency.
Currently, the company has integrated blockchain into its Digital Factory. With the product’s workflow and security strengthened, customers can organise their data in a safe, high-level process throughout the 3D printing process. The development also provides significant data auditability, governance, provenance, and verification.
This 3D printing blockchain integration can also solve some of the major problems within the 3D printing workflow. Orders can now be pre-verified with regards to facility matching and authentication, owing to the function of storing service bureau capability on blockchain.
According to a LINK3D announcement: “For AM, blockchain technology offers a trusted middleware to stabilise an untrusted distributed network that continues to gain momentum and popularity in major industries.”
With this new technological development, the origination and evolution of every design file can be tracked to ensure that intellectual property integrity is being adhered to. Blockchain can also offer a sense of security for supply chain and logistics tracking, as a part can be traced once they are shipped—for companies to identify the recipient opening it.
Real-time data logs from 3D printers, with the new integrated blockchain, can now be stored in “an immutable way for forensics during recalls and for traceability,” commented LINK3D.
The advanced solution serves to ensure a transparent environment and relationship between public and private party information disclosure throughout the 3D printing workflow. It also effectively hides and encrypts sensitive information that parties do not wish to disclose, which is crucial for mass AM adoption across aerospace and defence to automotive and medical sectors.
“Blockchain technology can be utilised as the backbone technology in the digital manufacturing ecosystem,” said Vishal Singh, chief technology officer and co-founder of LINK3D.
According to the International Data Corporation, global spending on 3D printing technology is forecast to have a five-year compound annual growth rate of 22.3 percent. By 2020, revenues in this area have the potential to reach US$28.9 billion.