Aug 23, 2018 | By Thomas

3D printing is becoming more economically accessible, creating a number of opportunities for counterfeiting and intellectual property theft. A team at NYU Tandon School of Engineering has found a way to prove the provenance of a part by embedding QR (Quick Response) codes into 3D printed products to do away with counterfeiting.

Their work is focused on taking advantage of layer‐by‐layer manufacturing process of AM to embed codes inside the components and reading them using image acquisition methods.

NYU Tandon associate professor Nikhil Gupta and his doctoral student Fei Chen – along with NYU Abu Dhabi researchers Nektarios Tsoutsos, Michail Maniatakos and Khaled Shahin  – developed a scheme that "explodes" a QR code within a computer-assisted design (CAD) file so that it presents several false faces — dummy QR tags — to a micro-CT scanner or other scanning device.

Only a trusted 3D printer or end user would know the correct head-on orientation for the scanner to capture the legitimate QR code image.

"By converting a relatively simple two-dimensional tag into a complex 3D feature comprising hundreds of tiny elements dispersed within the printed component, we are able to create many 'false faces,' which lets us hide the correct QR code from anyone who doesn't know where to look," Gupta said.

Chen, the study's lead author, said that after embedding QR codes in such simple objects as cubes, bars, and spheres, the team stress-tested the parts, finding that the embedded features had negligible impact on structural integrity.

"To create typical QR code contrasts that are readable to a scanner you have to embed the equivalent of empty spaces," she explained. "But by dispersing these tiny flaws over many layers we were able to keep the part's strength well within acceptable limits."

Tracking Codes as Unclonable “Clouds” in 3D Printed Parts

Tsoutsos and Maniatakos explored threat vectors to determine which AM sectors are best served by this security technology, a step that Gupta said was crucial in the research.

"You need to be cost efficient and match the solution to the threat level," he explained. "Our innovation is particularly useful for sophisticated, high-risk sectors such as biomedical and aerospace, in which the quality of even the smallest part is critical."

Such embedded codes can be used for parts produced by fused filament fabrication, inkjet printing, and selective laser sintering technologies for product authentication and identification of counterfeits. Post processing methods such as heat treatments and hot isostatic pressing may remove or distort these codes.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



Maybe you also like:


Zee wrote at 8/29/2018 6:01:31 PM:

LOL at "unclonable." This is 3D-printing, everything is clonable. This "explosion" is functionally a cube. So, anyone examining the cloud can just turn it, at most, six ways until they find the direction which scans as a working QR code.

Leave a comment:

Your Name:


Subscribe us to Feeds twitter facebook   

About provides the latest news about 3D printing technology and 3D printers. We are now seven years old and have around 1.5 million unique visitors per month.

News Archive