The trend in modern manufacturing is towards globally networked systems in which different partners work together in a tightly meshed network. Added to this is the increasing digitization, which requires smooth and secure data exchange. This is a situation that requires new technologies to meet licensing, copyright, and product liability requirements.

Challenge: Secured production in the digital age

What you can digitize, you can also reproduce lossless. This applies to music and movies as well as to the data set used by a 3D printer to produce a specific component. The growing importance of such additive production processes therefore calls for an effective process to ensure that a part can only be manufactured by a company which is also entitled to do so. And that this part is then undoubtedly recognizable as an original part.

That’s the idea behind SAMPL, the Secure Additive Manufacturing Platform for tomorrow’s Industry 4.0 manufacturing environment.

Solution: Counterfeit security only blockchain can guarantee

The simple authorization by username and password has its limits. Especially because it requires a single instance to store documents and credentials. A server that can be hacked and presents a central security risk. The blockchain, on the other hand, is a distributed system that is cryptographically secured and can contribute to end-to-end security. This makes it ideal for providing license and copyright information.

SAMPL is an effective safety solution especially for additive production processes. 3D print data is provided by the ordering party (OEM). In addition to encrypting this data, a digital license management based on blockchain technology will be integrated into the process of data exchange. In addition, the printed components are provided with “imprinted” RFID chips, which ensure permanent identification and traceability.

The license management extends the established tool for data exchange OpenDXM GlobalX of Prostep AG with an essential security feature. The RFID solution is being introduced by the Hamburg-based company NXP Semiconductors. Other partners include Hamburg-based companies such as consider IT, Airbus Operations, the Institute of Aircraft Cabin Systems of the Hamburg University of Technology and the Hamburg Research Center for Information Systems at the University of Hamburg.

The project is part of the Additive Manufacturing, Imaging, Communication and Engineering (PAICE) initiative and is funded by the Federal Ministry of Economics (BMWi).

Potential: Getting ready for the requirements of Industry 4.0

SAMPL is one of the technical requirements for the distributed value chains and flexible manufacturing systems of tomorrow and forms a platform for secure data exchange between production partners. This allows OEMs to realize secure on-demand production, thereby reducing storage costs and capital commitment. Pirated copies are effectively prevented. Licenses can be managed securely and reliably. Quality and product liability remain guaranteed.

The project was started in 2016. At the 2017 Hanover Fair, a first functional demonstration of the project was presented, which proved the functionality of the Blockchain / RFID solution.

By project completion in 2019, the beta test of the system will be completed in close cooperation with a 3D printer manufacturer and a mechanical engineering specialist from the Hamburg Metropolitan Region. This will be about first practical applications under real production conditions.

As of September 2019

in Numbers

project partners from research and industry
companies and institutes from the Hamburg Metropolitan Region
annual growth of the 3D printers market
20 billion
market volume in the production area

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