Concept for the secure transfer and limitation of 3D print files based on a permissioned blockchain.<br />
Publication Date: 2017-Oct-17
The IP.com Prior Art Database
1.1 Problem statement: 3D design owners miss an easy way to protect their IP
Figure 1: Problem: Design owners need to trust their business partners.
The expansion of additive manufacturing technologies (commonly known as 3D-printing) is held
back by missing possibilities to protect intellectual property. Today, there is no established way
for owners of 3D designs to share their design while restricting the number of prints. Thus, if a
3D design owner shares a file he loses control over the distribution of the respective design.
However, owners of 3D designs are often forced to work with external parties because they don’t
own the necessary equipment to print their designs themselves. In other cases, design owners
might actively seek to collaborate with external partners to leverage the benefits of local produc-
tion. In both scenarios, design owners want to protect their IP and lack the possibility to do so.
1.2 Objective: Provide an easy way to restrict the usage of shared design files
The present concept aims to introduce a process to securely transfer and limit the usage of digital
designs. The digital design can be a 3D print file, a CNC file or any other executable blueprint.
By implementing the following process, design owners can protect their files from unauthorized
usage within their business network. The core of the concept focuses on the numerical usage
limitation. A design owner shall be able to technically restrict how often a file can be used.
2 Description of the concept
2.1 The benefits of a decentralized licensing system
Today licensing solutions are centralized. This means that every design owner who wants to
restrict the access to his assets needs to either implement a DRM solution himself or trust on the
DRM system of a business partner. Subsequently, this fact leads to complex IT-systems. Figure
2 (p. 2) illustrates the number of secure connections needed to establish a secure business net-
work between three 3D printing farms, three design owners and two retailers. This diagram as-
sumes that the participants in the network don’t trust each other. Otherwise one party could act
as a central authority. However, since there is limited trust in the system it is assumed that design
owners want to keep control over their IP themselves. Therefore, every 3D printing farm who
wants to consume protected files of a design owner needs to establish an explicit connection to
this very design owner. These solutions will usually vary in their technical aspects. Individual
interfaces and protocols depending on the used solutions can be expected. As a result, the com-
plexity makes it unattractive for 3D printing farms to attach importance on the protection of their
customers designs. Unless the design owner has great market power and can assure a certain
order volume, a 3D printing provider will not accept any restrictions of his machinery by an ex-
ternal DRM system. Besides, for 3D printing farms which work with a vari...