Metal 3D printing company SLM Solutions is expanding its collaboration with digital supply chain software company Identify3D to improve IP security throughout the additive manufacturing process chain. The two companies first partnered in 2018 and are now looking to transform the fruits of their collaboration into an integrated software solution.
For SLM Solutions and many other industrial additive manufacturing companies, the question of security, and specifically the security of intellectual property, has remained. By integrating Identify 3D software into its end-to-end AM workflow, SLM Solutions says its metal SLM machines will offer a solution for data protection and licensing.
The Identify3D software consists of a number of modules developed to protect, manage, enforce and trace data from the design process all the way to production. The data in the software is itself secured in encrypted files, which not only defends against counterfeit procedures but also offers the manufacturer traceability of their designs. Moreover, the software enables users to see who has encountered and used the file in question. Qualified processes are also locked to limit operator error and to ensure compliance, repeatability and quality control.
“Identify3D software integrates into users’ current workflows but offers a new level of process security,” said Stephan Thomas, Co-Founder and Chief Strategy Officer at Identify3D. “Manufacturers can implement different strategies to limit the number of times a part can be printed, set an expiration date on the design and automatically delete files from machines after a build. Validity checks allow an audit of their design throughout the selective laser melting process.”
In other words, manufacturers using SLM Solutions 3D printers will have a higher degree of control over the designs that pass through the AM workflow. The aim, of course, is to keep manufacturers’ intellectual property protected from being stolen and/or compromised by external parties. Identify3D is arguably one of the more exciting players in the security software for AM area; in 2017, it amassed a large, multi-million-dollar investment to accelerate its software platform.
“SLM Solutions recognizes the trend as additive transforms manufacturing into a digital workflow,” added Dr. Gereon Heinemann, CTO of SLM Solutions Group AG. “By working together with Identify3D, we aim to offer users not only robust manufacturing systems, but a strategy to integrate both security and traceability which are essential elements to production manufacturing processes.”