3D Software

SLM Solutions, Viaccess-Orca and ShipParts.com enable secure cloud-to-print AM

3D printer manufacturer SLM Solutions has partnered with OTT and TV platform specialist Viaccess-Orca and ShipParts.com, a provider of digital services to maritime supply chains, to enable secure direct cloud-to-print additive manufacturing.

The new technology offering from the trio is designed to enhance the usage of parts data from ShipParts.com’s cloud by leveraging Viaccess-Orca’s Secure Manufacturing Platform (SMP). The fully automated software enables secure 3D printing on SLM’s selective laser melting (SLM) machines by encrypting files to prevent tampering, while also securing manufacturers’ Intellectual Property (IP) to provide greater production control in distributed manufacturing environments.

“As a pioneer in the field of digital assets distribution and traceability for Industry 4.0, with over 20 years of experience in designing, developing, and operating digital content security systems, Viaccess-Orca is pleased to once again set the standard for secure additive manufacturing together with its partners ShipParts.com and SLM Solutions,” said Alain Nochimowski, Chief Technology Officer at Viaccess-Orca.

“The native integration of our Secure Manufacturing Platform with SLM Solutions machines brings to the market a new value proposition and paves the way to truly distributed manufacturing.”

SLM Solutions, Viaccess-Orca and ShipParts.com have developed a new software to enable secure cloud-to-print. Photo via Viaccess-Orca.
SLM Solutions, Viaccess-Orca and ShipParts.com have developed new software to enable secure cloud-to-print. Photo via Viaccess-Orca.

The importance of secure 3D printing

3D printing’s increasing industrialization has seen 3D printers and distributed manufacturing facilities become more and more IoT-connected. Although there are many benefits to this, such as convenience, it has also given rise to the threat of cybersecurity breaches.

The main cybersecurity risks in 3D printing center around IP theft and process sabotage, with cloud-based file-sharing systems subject to hacking and 3D printed parts able to be reverse-engineered with 3D scanning technology. To demonstrate how catastrophic process sabotage could be, a group of researchers previously hacked into a 3D printer used to fabricate drone components and made undetectable modifications to the drone’s propellers which, although compromising the integrity of the part, still made it past quality assurance. 

These concerns are particularly relevant to the defense sector, with the US Department of Defense’s (DoD) first official additive manufacturing policy raising cybersecurity concerns from a DoD watchdog that said the agency’s printers could be vulnerable to sabotage by hostile attackers. Industrial 3D printer manufacturer Stratasys has since developed a new data security platform, ProtectAM, which is designed to enhance the cybersecurity of 3D printing specifically for US government and mission-critical defense applications.

Blockchain is another technology receiving attention in the defense sphere for its ability to secure the digital thread of 3D printing processes, delivered by the likes of SIMBA Chain. The US’ largest 3D printer network using a blockchain technology platform is currently being created as part of Automation Alley’s distributed manufacturing-focused Project DIAMOnD.

One firm that believes its technology can surpass blockchain’s capabilities is remote 3D printing secured transmission service DEFEND3D, which last year introduced a new patented technology to protect against cybercrime and IP theft during remote 3D printing. The technology is based on a One-Click-Protocol and enables a secure digital resupply of production parts to remote locations without the need for file transfer. 

The U.S. DoD’s Inspector General has raised concerns about the cybersecurity of military 3D printing. Photo via US Army.
The U.S. DoD’s Inspector General has raised concerns about the cybersecurity of military 3D printing. Photo via US Army.

A new secure cloud-to-print offering

Viaccess-Orca, SLM Solutions, and ShipParts.com are aiming to provide an answer to security concerns and bolster the robustness of digital manufacturing through their new protection and traceability software. 

Leveraging parts data from the ShipParts.com cloud, the software integrates Viaccess-Orca’s SMP software libraries with SLM Solutions’ machine firmware in order to allow direct cloud-to-print additive manufacturing.

The fully-automated software enables part files from the cloud to remain encrypted and unable to be printed until permission is granted, in order to provide greater production control within distributed manufacturing environments and prevent tampering. The software also secures manufacturers’ IP related to part data by controlling quantity, duration, and parameters for the allowed print.

“The Viaccess-Orca integration with SLM Solutions machines offers our customers a secure end-to-end solution that allows distributed manufacturing models around the globe,” said Nicolas Lemaire, Software Product Manager at SLM Solutions. “This integration is made possible thanks to our open architecture strategy that empowers our customers to benefit from our industry-leading additive manufacturing systems.”

Serving clients from 110 countries, ShipParts.com has more than 90,000 active users on its trading platform dedicated to maritime supply chains. With the IP security benefits offered by the software, the firm believes marine equipment manufacturers will be more inclined to adopt 3D printing within their operations.

“Listening to our customer base, we understood the key to widespread adoption of additive manufacturing technologies by marine equipment manufacturers has always been the security of IP,” said Roy Yap, Chief Growth Officer at ShipParts.com. 

“With this solution, we can assure our customer base without a doubt that their IP can be securely licensed per print, disrupting aftersales models. We are very excited to commercialize the solution.”

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Featured image shows SLM Solutions, Viaccess-Orca and ShipParts.com have developed a new software to enable secure cloud-to-print. Photo via Viaccess-Orca.