Intellectual property continues to be a big issue in 3D printing. The industry has been compared frequently to the music industry in the 1990s and early 2000s, as digital technology became more accessible and piracy became more frequent. Eventually, the music industry took a “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” approach to the issue, launching streaming services like Spotify to make music easily accessible while still protected by copyright.
The 3D printing industry has come up with several creative ways to combat intellectual property violations, from software to encoded verification techniques, but the most sophisticated technology has mostly been reserved for manufacturers attempting to prevent the 3D printing of counterfeit parts. Those who struggle the most are still the independent designers who try to make money by selling their work online only to find that someone else has copied their file and is selling it or offering it for free elsewhere.
Danish company Create it REAL has introduced a new solution that somewhat echoes Spotify, making the product available without allowing access to the file. The solution comes in the form of a chip that allows 3D printers to decrypt secured 3D files, so that designers could send their files directly to users’ printers rather than their computers. This prevents the recipient from being able to access or modify the original file, and it also eliminates the need for slicing software – the file would be 3D print-ready and guaranteed printable.
“Our technology opens new opportunities for FDM and SLA 3D printer manufacturers and users,” said Jeremie Pierre Gay, CEO of Create it REAL. “Imagine companies able to print or sell spare parts on-demand without the fear of losing their intellectual property. They would make huge savings on storage, transport, obsolescence issues, and could make the parts available forever to their customers.
“Our platform can be quickly integrated by 3D printer manufacturers and we are already working with some of them on this project. The market potential is incredible as we aim to fix one of the biggest challenges in the 3D printing industry right now. Like in the music or video industry, there will always be pirated content or lower-quality copies; however, we still need to help companies to guarantee their customers or partners the best 3D printing experience. Brands are trusted by their customers and must offer high quality and genuine files, 100% safe and tested for their printer and consumables…It will take time to build a large 3D printer installed base to attract consumer oriented brands; however, our solution can be quickly implemented for the B2B market. Imagine engineering or consulting companies, buying a set of secured printers to leave at their customer sites to allow them to 3D print their project.”
According to Create it REAL, their platform is compatible with FDM and SLA 3D printers and offers a print speed of up to five times faster than standard FDM 3D printers. End-to-end encryption secures files, and the REALvision slicer supports STL and Gcode files. An augmented reality feature allows users to preview real-size projects.
The platform already has some fans from one of the largest 3D printing marketplaces online. Hugo Fromont and Pierre Ayroles, co-founders of Cults, say that the solution is just what their users have been looking for:
“Many designers on our platform are looking for such innovation so they could sell their work being sure they would not find a copy on internet. We are very happy to join Create it REAL’s as their solution is very promising and will push the market limits.”
Create it REAL has developed several prototypes and is now looking for professional end-users and 3D printer manufacturers to try a pilot program, with the goal of releasing the solution by the end of the year. If you’re interested in learning more, you can contact the company here. Discuss in the Create it REAL forum at 3DPB.com.