Scientists discover 3D printing ‘fingerprint’ with IP protection potential

Published April 26, 2021

An article in 3D Printing Industry reported on work led by Zhanpeng Jin to develop a means of tracking the origin of any FDM 3D printed part based only on the extruder used to create them.
“What would be the best way to protect our IP from someone else printing the same design using their own printer?” said  Jin, an associate professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering. “We wanted to find something internal. This ThermoTag behaves like the fingerprint of the 3D printer, and when you print out a new product, you can use watermarking [to prevent patent infringement].”
School of Engineering and Applied Sciences colleagues on the research team include Associate Professors Chi Zhou, Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, and Wenyao Xu, Department of Computer Science and Engineering.
The researchers’ findings are detailed in their paper titled “ThermoTag: A Hidden ID of 3D Printers for Fingerprinting and Watermarking.”