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How to Prevent 3D Printing Hacks? Install Secret Flaws and Share the Decoder Ring

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A three-dimensional printer in action.

Researchers at New York University's Tandon School of Engineering have found a way to embed flaws in computer-aided design files so only trusted parties can print the part correctly in three dimensions.

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Researchers at the New York University (NYU) Tandon School of Engineering say they have developed techniques manufacturers can use to thwart intellectual-property thieves by deliberately incorporating hidden flaws--such as two-dimensional features or three-dimensional (3D) shapes--within computer-aided design files used in conjunction with 3D printing systems.

NYU professor Nikhil Gupta and colleagues have demonstrated how certain intentionally induced defects can vanish when a part is 3D-printed under a specific set of conditions. They say parties who lack information needed to process the files correctly would print a part with quality-reducing defects.

"The range of security feature designs demonstrated in this work can provide great flexibility to application engineers in terms of how to disguise these flaws easily in a complex shaped part," says NYU's Fei Chen. "Most industrial components manufactured using 3D printing have complex designs to justify the use of 3D printing, which further helps in embedding these features without detection."

From NYU News
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