SAMPL – safe 3D printing on the blockchain

With SAMPL, value chains in the area of additive manufacturing are to be secured against counterfeiting.

Blockchain meets additive manufacturing – does it fit together and is it just a combination of buzzwords? Our colleague Maximilian Kops briefly presented this project in his report on distributors. This idea is to be deepened here a little bit.

3D printing – Blockchain meets the Bitcoin revolution review

SAMPL stands for Secure Additive Managing Platform and wants to implement an integrated security solution for additive manufacturing processes and 3D printing. The entire value creation process, from the generation of the 3D print data to the Bitcoin revolution review transfer, licensing and finally the production itself, is to be secured on the block chain. The connection to the real world is to be ensured by hardware-based safeguarding of the 3D printers themselves and by marking the end product using RFID chips.

Why is this interesting? From an economic point of view, the problem is that the strength of additive manufacturing is also a risk: 3D printing enables anyone to produce 3D components of any batch size on the basis of design data. Understandably, the unbelievable potential also goes hand in hand with the concern about counterfeit protection. Particularly from the perspective of global supply chains, companies want to ensure that only authorized institutions can use production-relevant data, that only original data is used and that the number of 3D prints produced can be controlled by the customer. On the one hand, no customer wants subcontractors to be able to produce more components than agreed and, for example, supply them to market players; on the other hand, this is not just an economic argument, especially for safety-relevant components.

Smart Contracts and RFID to protect against Bitcoin loophole scam

Of course, such things are already contractually regulated in themselves. However, such contracts cannot rule out the possibility that production-related data may be misused. A technical solution that prevents such scam from the outset would create new security here.

Conversely, one might ask why a supplier should use SAMPL for additively manufactured components. Why should he integrate the above-mentioned hardware safeguards into his Bitcoin loophole scam production systems? The keyword here is the “Chain of Trust”: By participating in this project, the own supply chain also becomes more transparent for the end customer.

Overall, it is interesting that SAMPL, like, ultimately designed a blockchain use case that can be touched: In the end, it’s all about real, tangible objects and products.

To achieve this, the SAMPL project relies on blockchain technology in conjunction with the secure data exchange solution OpenDXM Global X from PROSTEP AG. Blockchain technology, and in particular the use of Smart Contracts, enables digital licensing for printing a defined number of copies of a component.

The 3D printers are connected to this blockchain via so-called secure elements. Finally, RFID chips applied to the finalized component will store relevant information about the product, such as the serial number.

A consortium of various companies from Germany is working on the project: PROSTEP AG, 3D MicroPrint GmbH, consider it GmbH and NXP Semiconductors GmbH are all involved in this project. Finally, the Fraunhofer Institute for Electrical Nanosystems, the Institute for Cabin Systems at the Technical University of Hamburg, the Hamburg Research Center for Information Systems and the Institute for Distributed Systems at the University of Ulm are also represented.

As Maximilian has already reported, the idea has attracted the interest of the Ministry of Economic Affairs. In concrete terms, the project management organisation DLR, which is the administrative head of the “Digital Technologies for Business (PAiCE)” funding programme on behalf of the BMWi, has granted the project over two million euros in funding. If you would like to know more about the project and keep up to date with publications, please visit the project homepage.