Mar 10, 2016 | By Kira
Counterfeit products sold online are a huge problem in the retail industry, particularly when it comes to designer shoes and accessories, which are often reproduced as fakes and sold to unwitting shoppers. Hoping to combat the problem of counterfeit goods, San Francisco-based startup Origin, collaborating with tech-company Chronicled, has produced a series of 3D printed Smart Tags for Marshawn Lynch’s Limited Edition Beast Mode shoes. These Smart Tags, embedded with encrypted microchips and unique serial numbers, can simply be scanned with a smartphone to reveal the product’s un-forgeable digital certificate, proving 100% authenticity and returning a sense of trust to the market.
In order to create these 3D printed Smart Tags, Origin, founded by Chris Prucha and Joel Ong, turned to the Autodesk Ember 3D printer, a high quality SLA desktop machine that is completely open source, from hardware to software, to firmware and electronics. Origin is a distinct 3D printing startup in that with their unique 3D printing manufacturing platform, they intend to finally deliver on 3D printing’s promise to transform manufacturing.
“Typical 3D printing cannot match the quality, capability, or the low per-unit cost of traditional manufacturing techniques,” said the company. “We’re revolutionizing manufacturing by creating an easier, on-demand way for companies to make real products. We do it by using our own 3D printing process that has the quality and low-costs required to replace injection molding right now, not tomorrow.”
For the 3D printed Smart Tags, Origin utilized the Autodesk Ember 3D printer, taking advantage of its open source design to create custom software for embedding the microchip directly into the tag, adding customizable logos, and even a unique engraved serial number, all with the same machine.
Normally, such a product would be injection molded, today’s go-to manufacturing method. However, the heat from injection molding would likely damage the circuitry in the NFC (near field communication) microchip. Additionally, the custom logo and engraved serial number would require custom tooling for each part, significantly driving up lead times and overall manufacturing costs. 3D printing was thus the only viable production method.
Prucha, an ex-Apple employee and now co-founder and CEO of Origin, explained that at first, they tried using FDM, standard SLA, and even industrial multi-jet 3D printing technology to make the Smart Tags. While the last option was way too costly, the first two were only capable of producing workable prototypes. Ultimately, because Origin could modify the Ember’s open source software, they were able to create a unique process for integrating all of the components direclty to the chip, resulting in a finished product that can easily compete with one that was injection molded.
Each Smart Tag is 3D printed in three stages: the base, main body, and the multi-ton logo. They start with the main body, which consists of 35 layers and takes only four minutes to 3D print. One side of the body features a special rim for holding the microchip, which is inserted during production. Next is the base, which is 3D printed directly over the microchip, completely encasing it in plastic. The base also includes a unique serial number, generated by Ember’s open-source software. Finally, the chip is secured to a 3D printed fixture on the buildhead, ensuring alignment while 3D printing the logo. The entire 3D printing process is shown in detail in the video below.
The 3D printed Smart Tags combine several layers of security, including an NFC chip, Ethereum blockchain technology (similar to what Bitcoin uses), and a software-generated serial number
This precise and custom-designed method has resulted in only one failure in a run of 600, proving that contrary to popular belief, 3D printing is more than ready to move into commercial-quality production environments, and Origin is ready to take it there.
The 3D printed Smart Tags have been integrated into NFL player Marshawn Lynch’s Beast Mode shoe, distributed by GREATS. The technology provides an un-forgeable proof of ownership for sneaker collectors and prospective buyers. Though the microchip and serial number cannot be modified, the digital certificate can be transferred in the event of a sale or trade, proving authenticity and keeping counterfeits off the market. In future, Origin and Chronicled plan to develop smaller and more flexible 3D printed Smart Tags that could be used for sneakers, handbags, artwork or even furniture.
As for Origin, the 3D printing startup has already developed close relationships with 3D printer manufacturers Autodesk and Formlabs, as well as clients such as Identiv, GREATS, Chronicled, Beast Mode and more. With products such as these 3D printed Smart Tags, Origin and Autodesk Ember are chipping away at the perception that 3D printing has to be synonymous with rapid prototyping—it’s ready for on-demand manufacturing, today.
Posted in 3D Printing Application
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yzorg wrote at 3/11/2016 11:27:21 AM:
a smart tag... to protect shoe collectors. lol. if someone tries to prove to me the authenticity of his shoes by a smarttag i might feel the urge to punch him in the face. :) i hope thers also some electronics involved that renders the shoe unusable shortly after the product warranty wore off.