Identify3D – Case Study and Initial Contact.

Further to my previous post regarding the TCT article posted by Laura Griffiths, I wanted to further explore the role which software provider Identify3D are playing in digital manufacturing security and what direction this sector is taking to maintain digital assets.

Their three stage ‘Protect, ‘Manage’ and ‘Enforce’ range of software, aims to capture, encrypt and license digital manufacturing data, from CAD/CAM data, licensing, commercial contracts & production information.

By securing this ‘digital thread’ which tracks a design, manufacturing and deployment, Identify3D can provide their customers with exact knowledge of how, where, when and by whom their parts were manufactured.

The company are expanding into a variety of sectors and already have SLM, Renishaw and EOS as partners.

 

I reached out to their Head of Business Development, Tim Rose, asking if he would be willing to answer a short questionnaire for my research purposes, which I’ve listed below;

 

– How did business start / what led to the company’s creation?

– Do you see a trend towards increased awareness of cyber-security and asset protection in the manufacturing sector, similar to those seen in IT, Finance, Utilities, Defence and similar sectors.

– Are manufacturing companies now actively seeking out services of companies like yours, or is it still on experts to convince them of this requirement?

– Do you believe there is any scope for updated and improved digital manufacturing file formats to aid with security?

– Where do you think the most innovative research into digital asset protection is currently being performed / Are there particular schools whose research you keep track of?

– One topic I’m hoping to explore further is the validation of files, checking if a 3D printed part matches the design intention and to check for any outside interference. Are there any particular tools or techniques that your staff would use for this sort of task?

– What are the biggest hurdles to the better protection of digital manufacturing property.

Finally, as most of my research and document access is based on European libraries, are there any ANSI standards that are particularly applicable for your business?

Using Blockchain Networking to Secure Digital Assets

This week, whilst reading further into manufacturing specific cyber-security concerns, I came across the following TCT magazine article, written by Laura Griffiths.

Maintaining the Digital Thread – From Augmented 3D printing to Blockchain

One chapter caught my attention in particular, where the article touches on using Blockchain networks to securely host and transfer manufacturing data from designers to 3D printing service bureaus, focusing on Link3D’s flagship product ‘Digital Factory’.

In theory, the process could be revolutionary for digital manufacturing, where secure records of data transfer and modification are stored across a network of peers. The technology is most widely known as realising the recent rise of cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin, but the core technology could have far wider reaches than just the financial sector.

I plan to explore this idea further, which could form the basis of my proposal for the submission for this module.

Purpose of Information Security

Purpose of IS

The reason to implement information security procedures can be crudely broken down into six major topics, three for the data itself and another three for the users accessing the data.

  • Confidentiality – Preventing data being accessed or copied without approval.
  • Integrity – If data is manipulated, corrupted or overridden without permission.
  • Availability – Ensuring data cannot be erased or become inaccessible without permission.
  • Authentication – Confirming a user is who they claim to be.
  • Authorization – Confirming the user has permission to access the data.
  • Nonrepudiation – Preventing a user denying the performed their actions later on.

            (https://nvlpubs.nist.gov/nistpubs/SpecialPublications/NIST.SP.800-12r1.pdf)

LG1 Reflective Statement – Networking

Key industry contacts were gained from visiting networking events such as the UK TCT show in Birmingham, an introductory 3D printing workshop hosted by Stratasys or a guided tour of the MTC facility in Coventry. Introducing myself as an Msc student in additive manufacturing and explaining the course in detail, were well received by these contacts, who unanimously seemed to agree that it was time AM was covered in more depth at higher education level. This is evident as in the past 24 months, no fewer than seven UK universities are now offering an Msc course in this field.

The majority of industry professionals I approached were more than willing to help out where possible, with invitations to interview them, answer technical questions or site visits to see first hand their use of the technology offered. Unfortunately the module time-scale became a limiting factor and allowing for busy schedules meant I could not take up some of these offers. For future first-hand research, I will aim to arrange these appointments earlier on in the module, which should allow for cancellations and diary clashes. To do this, I aim to employ improved project management tools, such as gantt and progress charts.

On reflection, I believe these events and seminars are invaluable to those hoping to gain useful insights into a new industry or to learn more on a broader level, but expectations should match the technical know-how of the audience and the content being delivered. For example, many visitors to the TCT show were hobbyists/enthusiasts and as such the content of the majority of discussions and seminars were tailored for very entry-level discussion topics. In contrast, the Stratasys workshop was pitched at industrial users of AM equipment, looking to upgrade to their newest models, so a level of knowledge is presumed and as such the seminars were far more advanced.

For more detailed specifics, I received much better results by privately contacting the speakers afterwards, most of whom were happy to discuss their topics in further detail. I believe their willingness to help my studies, stems from a wider understanding that for the industry as a whole to continue to grow and mature, it will require those involved to become better educated in the subject.

LG1 Reflective Summary

This LG1 module was predominantly spent researching additive manufacturing / 3D printing technology, the market drivers and examples of cutting-edge applications. Combined with the professional networking aspect, the module proved to be an ideal introductory activity for the rest of the Msc course.

Whilst investigating the current state of the industry and discussing wth those who are working in the field, several topics and ideas more relevant for future modules on the course were brought to my attention, which could be explored further at a later date.