3D software developer, Link3D, has developed a blockchain technology integration for 3D printing workflow, which, it claims, is the first time this technology has been implemented in this way.
The New York-based company that blockchain technology – which offers traceability and security to 3D printing processes – has now been integrated into its digital factory SaaS product, “as an additional layer of security”.
The technology, said Link3D, allows the 3D printing process to yield a “seamless data ‘strand' from start-to-finish”.
This data strand spans 3D printing stages, from conception, research and development, prototyping, production, delivery and recall.
Blockchain, also referred to as distributed ledger technology, makes it possible to digitally track and identify transactions across a distributed network of computers, with no data being held centrally. Anyone on the network can view the ‘ledger' at any time.
All transactions are hashed and recorded in a block that is encrypted and saved. Each block is timestamped and contains the cryptographic hash of the preceding block to which it is linked, creating a chain. The technology was first used for bitcoin transactions, but enterprises are increasingly discovering its potential in other areas, as well - such as 3D printing.
Describing it as “fundamental in many aspects to 3D printing operations” Vishal K. Singh, CTO and co-founder of LINK3D said that blockchain technology alleviates the need for data auditability when the part is printed.
Among the features offered by the LINK3D technology are file integrity, file attribution, IP protection and traceability, all high-priority 3D printing processes.
The company said the encrypted blockchain data protection could be crucial for mass AM adoption within industries such as aerospace and defence, automotive and medical.
“Blockchain technology has the potential to become the backbone to unify the disjointed 3D printing ecosystem and provide an end-to-end data trail,” explained Singh.
“Our technology is the first of its kind and provides traceability and security to 3D printing processes for all industries.”