Additive manufacturing and Blockchain

The concept of cryptocurrency is not alien to most of the people. There are different kinds of crypto-currencies out there now like, Bitcoin, Ethereum, etc. The technology behind it is the Blockchain. It is challenging the status quo in a radical way. It provides an open decentralized database with the use of math and cryptography. This database can be of any transaction including money, goods, property, etc. This creates a record where the authenticity can be easily verified by anyone who has a digital presence.

It is believed that in coming times Blockchain will be used in many ways and sectors. Every transaction of money or work is recorded on a public and distributed ledger.

With the rise in technology, it is said that additive manufacturing or 3D printing might bring the next industrial revolution. However, such digitally printed technique carries a huge risk as the digital file is often vulnerable to digital hacking. Unauthorized access becomes easy when the value lies in digital codes and not on the production. Now the question is how to secure the data behind the digital networks? Here comes the Blockchain technology.

According to General Electric (GE), “An additive manufacturing device configured to implement a distributed ledger system, the additive manufacturing device comprising: manufacturing hardware configured to generate an object via an additive manufacturing process; and a controller configured to: receive a build file comprising instructions for controlling the manufacturing hardware to generate the object; receive a material identifier indicating a particular lot of manufacturing media; validate the build file and the material identifier via a distributed ledger to verify at least one of an author of the build file or an origin of the particular lot of manufacturing media; control the manufacturing hardware using the build file to generate the object using the particular lot of manufacturing media; and in response to completion of the generation of the object, generate an object manufactured transaction to the distributed ledger indicating a result of the validation of the origin of the at least one of the build file or the material identifier.”

In the recent years, the idea of the combination of blockchain and 3D printing saw a rise and great potential.

John Craib, Deployment section of Allied Command Transformation of NATO military command, said, “There is definitely military potential for 3D printing. So, we must solve the trust issues. Here at Allied Command Transformation, we intend to discover how the blockchain technology can help with that.”

Last year in June, the US Navy announced its plan to explore and later introduce the blockchain technology to secure the production from digital files.

Many leading IT giants in the world have also looked into the combination of the two technologies.

Blockchain has a unique potential to overcome the loopholes of the digital file printing and there are high chances that it can become the backbone of the future of manufacturing.