Infill Creates a “Fingerprint” for Tracing 3D Printed Items Back to Their Sources

Share this Article

In a new study led by the University at Buffalo entitled “PrinTracker: Fingerprinting 3D Printers Using Commodity Scanners,” researchers may have made a breakthrough in how to trace a 3D printed object to the printer on which it was made. It’s believed to be the first accurate method for doing so, and could be extremely valuable in identifying the origin of things like counterfeit products and 3D printed guns.

Wenyao Xu

“3D printing has many wonderful uses, but it’s also a counterfeiter’s dream. Even more concerning, it has the potential to make firearms more readily available to people who are not allowed to possess them,” said the study’s lead author Wenyao Xu, PhD, Associate Professor of Computer Science and Engineering in UB’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

The method centers on infill, the core of the 3D print that is rarely seen but that has a big impact on a part’s strength and weight. Many different patterns can be selected for infill, but those patterns are typically pretty uniform from printer to printer – right? Not so, in fact. Depending on the 3D printer, the dimensions of the infill can vary from 5 to 10 percent from the size chosen – and each printer is unique in the infill it generates. Therefore, every printer essentially has a unique fingerprint.

“3D printers are built to be the same,” said Xu. “But there are slight variations in their hardware created during the manufacturing process that lead to unique, inevitable and unchangeable patterns in every object they print.”

To test their model, the researchers used 14 common 3D printers to print five door keys each. 10 of the printers were FDM, and four were SLA. With an inkjet scanner, they created digital models of each key. They then enhanced and filtered each image and identified elements of the infill pattern. An algorithm was developed to align and calculate the variations of each key to authenticate the fingerprint. This created a fingerprint database for each of the 14 3D printers.

The researchers were able to match the key to the 3D printer it came from, using its fingerprint, 99.8% of the time. 10 months later, they ran a new series of tests to see if additional use of the 3D printers would change the results. It did not – the results were the same. The researchers also ran tests on keys that had been damaged in some way to obscure their identity. In these cases, PrinTracker was accurate 92% of the time.

According to Xu, PrinTracker can be used to trace any 3D printed object back to its source. He compares the technology to that used by law enforcement agencies and 2D printer companies to identify the source of paper documents.

“We’ve demonstrated that PrinTracker is an effective, robust and reliable way that law enforcement agencies, as well as businesses concerned about intellectual property, can trace the origin of 3D-printed goods,” Xu said.

The study will be presented in Toronto at the Association for Computing Machinery’s Conference on Computer and Communications Security, which runs from October 15th to 19th.

Authors of the paper include Zhengxiong Li, Aditya Singh Rathore, Chen Song, Sheng Wei, Yanzhi Wang and Wenyao Xu.

Discuss this and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com or share your thoughts below. 

[Source/Images: University at Buffalo]

Share this Article


Recent News

Why Automated Post Processing Makes Manufacturing With 3D Printers Possible

Interview with Malika Khodja on Women in 3D Printing



Categories

3D Design

3D Printed Art

3D Printed Food

3D Printed Guns


You May Also Like

3D Printing News Briefs: September 6, 2019

In 3D Printing News Briefs today, we’ve got some business and materials news to share. ASTM International has announced five female board nominees, and cycling brand fizik is working with...

Interview with Emma Molobi on Additive Manufacturing for Railway Infrastructure

Emma Molobi 3D printing and additive manufacturing are becoming important tools in the engineering sector. One nascent development is occurring in the railway sector which is trying to utilise the...

3D Printing News Briefs: August 29, 2019

For this edition of 3D Printing News Briefs, we’re telling you about award nominations, a 3D printing workshop, and a Kickstarter campaign. Johnson & Johnson is now taking nominations for...

Kenyan and Zimbabwean Researchers Study 3D Printed Polymer/PLA on Fabric

Researchers from Kenya and Zimbabwe are tackling more complex 3D printing adhesion and material topics in their recently published, ‘Use of regression to study the effect of fabric parameters on...


Shop

View our broad assortment of in house and third party products.


Print Services

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our 3DPrint.com.

You have Successfully Subscribed!