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3D printing may offer opportunities for Blockchain technology.
3D printing may offer opportunities for Blockchain technology.

The American industrial giant General Electric (GE) recently filed a patent application to use blockchain technology to validate and verify 3D printed objects in its supply chain, according to a patent filing released by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) in June. The patent application was filed by GE in last December.

The application demonstrated a method for integrating distributed ledger technology to 3D printing to create a database that validates and verifies the manufacturing process. By applying blockchain technology, it is possible to create a manufacturing history that helps tracking and authenticating 3D-printed objects.

The main objective behind the application is to deal with challenges that exist in the current 3D printing industry, which “lack verification and validation systems for ensuring that objects produced by the process are appropriately certified”.

GE believed that the use of blockchain technology could ensure that forged parts are not being sold. It allows all of GE’s additively manufactured parts to be traced from design to production, as well as to certify the materials, machines and processes used.

For instance, if there is a part which has been manufactured using the 3D printing process, everyone with the access to a 3D printer could reproduce the part. In other words, end users cannot verify the integrity of the part.

"It would therefore be desirable to provide systems and methods for implementing a historical data record of an additive manufacturing process with verification and validation capabilities that may be integrated into additive manufacturing devices," stated in the filing.

Earlier this year, GE also announced that it had joined the Blockchain in Transport Alliance (BiTA), a blockchain consortium that aims to create standards in the transportation and logistics industry.

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