Home Cyber Security Cybersecurity and Additive Manufacturing: Importance of 3D Printers’ Protection from Cyberattacks

Cybersecurity and Additive Manufacturing: Importance of 3D Printers’ Protection from Cyberattacks


Jeremy Straub, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Computer Science of North Dakota State University, has publicized a couple of recent research papers covering the cybersecurity risk to 3D printers. These two research papers discuss the growing threats of cyber-attacks to 3D printing and doable methods to solve the problems.

According to SPIE, ‘Identifying positioning-based hacking against 3D printing process and 3D printed objects’ was reviewed at the Tracking conference and Pattern Recognition. In the research paper Straub, of NDSU, presents how harmful modification of 3D printed object is troublesome.

Another research paper, ‘A consolidated system for 3D printing cybersecurity’, is released by SPIE, Straub discusses a technique for counteracting cyber threats on any 3D printer by using a new “light sensing-based authentication system.”

Rising Cybersecurity Threats

Although 3D printing carries on finding both consumer and industrial programs, the threat of defected or altered objects consequently increases. Straub also emphasizes that for a continues adoption of 3D printing, the threat for cybersecurity must be addressed.

This particular threat is amplified when it comes to the commercial utilization of additive manufacturing because the risks are higher while operational components are malfunctioning. Although evaluating finished printed components is a sure way to beat this problem, it’s time-consuming, and many large organizations are considering various other qualification methods.

Straub makes clear that this will specifically affect people because they are not likely to have access to sophisticated preventative methods and suggests an image tracking system that works well in real-time in any 3D printer to identify modifications that imply defective prints.

Today’s cybersecurity systems for 3D printers include firewalls to prevent access to 3D printers or the particular encrypted shield of 3D data files.

Create it REAL; a Danish company has evolved a system for decrypting and encrypting 3D data files onboard a three-dimensional printer. The primary goal of the encrypted shield process is IP security, but it could possibly reduce destructive attacks by preventing data file modification.

Recommended Cybersecurity System

To fight the issue, Straub suggests a tracking method that could detect when an attack has occurred. This system is executed in real-time while the 3D printer is working and could enable a print task to be aborted. This system defined in the research paper uses 5 cameras to keep track of the 3D printer and evaluate the object printing with relation to its envisioned design. In that way, Straub expects to determine if an object is out of line or altered on the printer bed.

A new real-time tracking process has also been researched by GE as it’s set to make the world’s premier powder-based 3D printer. GE’s patents confirmed that the company is using in-situ tracking to approve components, and this process could have possible ways to identify risks in Straub’s suggested way.

Researcher’s Initiatives to Protect 3D Printers from Hacking

Security scientists have indicated that it’s possible for cybercriminals to make disguised alterations to 3D printed components that could bring in problems and even security risks, too.

In Georgia Institute of Technology and Rutgers University in New Brunswick, researchers have proved that cyber-attacks on 3D printers were prone to pose risks to safety and health. The scientists have developed methods to fight them.

In a trustworthy research report, Malicious Fill Pattern Detection in Additive Manufacturing – See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Feel No Evil, Print No Evil, the scientists used cancer malignancy imaging methods to identify hacking and intrusions of 3D printer controllers. The research was released at the twenty-sixth USENIX Security Symposium held in, Canada.

An assistant professor of Rutgers University in New Brunswick and co-author of the research held in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Mehdi Javanmard said “ Think about entrusting the manufacturing of any object to a 3D printing service and you have no accessibility to their 3D printers and no means of validating whether small imperfections, invisible to the human eye, have been injected into the object. The outcomes could possibly be disastrous, and you would have no chance of monitoring exactly where the problem originated from.”

Affirming Accuracy and Reliability

The potential risks in hidden faulty components come from the greater use of 3D printing services and facilities to manufacture items. Products can easily be made here, but there’s no quality method to authenticate them for accuracy and reliability, the researchers explained. The firmware in most of these printers can easily be hacked.

The research demonstrated that 3D printers could be compromised to print out substandard items. Scientific study has devised a new way of finding and fighting 3D printing cyberattacks.

In the next 5 years, scientists will also examine various other possible ways of attacks on 3D printers, and also feasible defenses. The study also suggests some cybersecurity companies adopt new ways to remove the vulnerability of flawed parts while manufacturing the 3D printers, as this will further protect the systems from harmful cyber-attacks. This is undoubtedly a difficult task, but it is certainly not impossible, only research and development can prevent attacks and discourage the profitability of the hacking business.