Digital Rights Management for Distributed Manufacturing Via 3D-Printing

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Three-dimensional (3D) printing is rapidly being recognized as a highly efficient manufacturing technology of the near future. Distributed manufacturing on-demand has the potential for radical changes in global economic models by eliminating or reducing the need for large scale production runs of simple goods, replacing an overseas factory with a domestic factory that manufactures and ships the same product as each unit is sold. Resource conservation is a major advantage of this system but it is highly dependent on how deeply integrated it becomes in the economy. The biggest hurdle with this is convincing designers and companies that their intellectual property is safe in this new system.

Researchers at Purdue University have designed a digital rights management (DRM) system that addresses this concern by embedding a variety of metadata into a new Secure STL file type. With this, the intellectual property of product designers can be easily protected for 3D-printed items that are sold, marketing data can be more efficiently collected (even for free items), and a convenient, secure storage point for customization by the consumer can be attached to files on the fly as part of a transaction instead of being predefined in the CAD files.

Currently, there are no other solutions on the market for thoroughly protecting intellectual property in the coming manufacturing revolution, but with smart, thorough development of DRM for a new "Secure STL" production-only file format, all of these concerns can be alleviated.

-Secure STL files
-Protect intellectual property
-Allows for customization by the consumer
-Efficient collection of marketing data

Potential Applications:
-Additive manufacturing/3D printing
-Prototyping/computer-aided manufacturing
-Industries, e.g., defense, aerospace, automotive, medical, architecture, consumer goods
(No issued patents found)
Purdue Office of Technology Commercialization
1801 Newman Road
West Lafayette, IN 47906

Phone: (765) 588-3475
Fax: (765) 463-3486