Danish 3D printing research company Create it REAL has developed a new platform for 3D printers with a focus on IP protection. The platform allows users to 3D print files without actually having access to the original 3D file. The process is enabled by directly decrypting the file onboard the printer using the Create it REAL processing chip.

Create it REAL previously developed the RTP real-time processor in 2013 which claims to increase the speed of FDM and SLA 3D printing. Since then, the company has worked on various other solutions based around this technology, such as software that can prevent the 3D printing of firearms and also developed software to preview prints in augmented reality.

Currently, Create it REAL has produced a number of prototypes which it intends to use in large-scale pilot programs before full release by the end of this year.

The encryption and decryption process. Image via Create it REAL.

The encryption and decryption process. Image via Create it REAL.

3D file encryption

Announcing the latest development, Create it REAL relates the device to the music industry in terms of protection of files.

Music streaming platforms allow customers to listen to music without actually allowing access to the specific files themselves and this provides artists and record labels an element of protection. However, this is perhaps not the best example as in this case music listeners do not necessarily need or want original files to alter or modify. While the 3D printing community has much larger emphasis on tinkering and modifying designs.

Furthermore, DRM in the music industry was frequently circumvented and it was the development of easy to use platforms where music is available at a minimal cost that has arguably done more to slow piracy than any system of control.

Despite this, the advancement of this technology means users could 3D print branded content without being given full access to the content and altering or modifying designs. This could also expand the market for purchasing .stl files with more security given to designers. The development would be particularly beneficial to corporate companies that would be concerned about allowing access to original design files. Although it is unlikely Adidas will allow users to 3D print their own Carbon midsoles in the near future.

Jeremie Pierre Gay, CEO of Create it REAL explains the company’s vision,

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.

The onboard decryption process. Photo via Create it REAL.

The onboard decryption process. Photo via Create it REAL.

Intellectual Property loss

Create it REAL cites the Gartner prediction that 3D printing will result in intellectual property losses amounting to at least $100 billion by the year 2018. Jeremie Pierre Gay states that the company is thereby aiming “to fix one of the biggest challenges in the 3D printing industry right now.” As he explains,

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.

The Walt Disney Company, is clearly also concerned about such losses as it recently filed a patent for 3D printing with anti-scanning filament. Disney highlighted concerns that their figurines and models could easily be copied using 3D scanning and 3D printing and thus hope to mitigate this with a new 3D printing process.

As 3D Printing Industry readers were quick to point out following our Disney article, circumventing the proposed anti-scanning filament would be possible with a low-tech solution – a can of dulling spray paint.

Similarly, the 3D printed objects produced on a Create it REAL enabled 3D printer could also be 3D scanned to create a digital file. Perhaps the combination of the two technologies may be the answer but even then there will still be alternative processes.

Nevertheless, the encryption platform may prove to be a promising technology in encouraging large companies to engage in the 3D printing industry.

Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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Featured image shows the 3D RTP v450 chip. Image via Create it REAL. 

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