Skip to comments.3D printers have ‘fingerprints,’ a discovery that could help trace 3D-printed guns...
Posted on 10/20/2018 12:27:29 PM PDT by LibWhacker
BUFFALO, N.Y. Like fingerprints, no 3D printer is exactly the same.
Thats the takeaway from a new University at Buffalo-led studyDownload pdf that describes whats believed to be the first accurate method for tracing a 3D-printed object to the machine it came from.
The advancement, which the research team calls PrinTracker, could ultimately help law enforcement and intelligence agencies track the origin of 3D-printed guns, counterfeit products and other goods.
3D printing has many wonderful uses, but its also a counterfeiters dream. Even more concerning, it has the potential to make firearms more readily available to people who are not allowed to possess them, says the studys lead author Wenyao Xu, PhD, associate professor of computer science and engineering in UBs School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.
The study will be presented in Toronto at the Association for Computing Machinerys Conference on Computer and Communications Security, which runs from Oct. 15-19. It includes coauthors from Rutgers University and Northeastern University.
To understand the method, its helpful to know how 3D printers work. Like a common inkjet printer, 3D printers move back-and-forth while printing an object. Instead of ink, a nozzle discharges a filament, such as plastic, in layers until a three-dimensional object forms.
Each layer of a 3D-printed object contains tiny wrinkles usually measured in submillimeters called in-fill patterns. These patterns are supposed to be uniform. However, the printers model type, filament, nozzle size and other factors cause slight imperfections in the patterns. The result is an object that does not match its design plan.
For example, the printer is ordered to create an object with half-millimeter in-fill patterns. But the actual object has patterns that vary 5 to 10 percent from the design plan. Like a fingerprint to a person, these patterns are unique and repeatable. As a result, they can be traced back to the 3D printer.
3D printers are built to be the same. But there are slight variations in their hardware created during the manufacturing process that lead to unique, inevitable and unchangeable patterns in every object they print, Xu says.
To test PrinTracker, the research team created five door keys each from 14 common 3D printers 10 fused deposition modeling (FDM) printers and four stereolithography (SLA) printers.
With a common scanner, the researchers created digital images of each key. From there, they enhanced and filtered each image, identifying elements of the in-fill pattern. They then developed an algorithm to align and calculate the variations of each key to verify the authenticity of the fingerprint.
Having created a fingerprint database of the 14 3D printers, the researchers were able to match the key to its printer 99.8 percent of the time. They ran a separate series of tests 10 months later to determine if additional use of the printers would affect PrinTrackers ability to match objects to their machine of origin. The results were the same.
The team also ran experiments involving keys damaged in various ways to obscure their identity. PrinTracker was 92 percent accurate in these tests.
Xu likens the technology to the ability to identify the source of paper documents, a practice used by law enforcement agencies, printer companies and other organizations for decades. While the experiments did not involve counterfeit goods or firearms, Xu says PrinTracker can be used to trace any 3D-printed object to its printer.
Weve demonstrated that PrinTracker is an effective, robust and reliable way that law enforcement agencies, as well as businesses concerned about intellectual property, can trace the origin of 3D-printed goods, Xu says.
Editors note: A previous version of this news release incorrectly identifed what FDM stands for in FDM printers.
Hmmm. Don’t suppose there would be workarounds for that. Nah.
like having crime shoes that are only worn when omitting crime so there's only one pair to hide/dispose of, printer heads are even easier to hide
same thing with pistol barrels, slide and firing pins, it's not rocket science
Sample size of 14.
With regular inkjet printers, you can easily change the printhead. Wouldn’t you be able to do that with additive 3D printers? Seems like it would be easy to send the evidence to the landfill.
“Sample size of 14.”
Don’t worry, new legislation will require all 3D printers to be “fingerprinted” before leaving the factory. The database will soon have 100 million 3D printers in it for forensic purposes only.
The implication here is that homemade 3D-printed guns are inherently illegal and/or would naturally be used in a crime and would be something that the police would (of course) want to track.
Why make these assumptions? There is nothing wrong with making a gun.
Control freaks are worried about control. Again.
A couple years ago I read that regular printers have something embedded in the ink or ink processing that can identify the origin of printed documents. It was a long time ago, and I think it was Rush who mentioned it.
All before any actual crime has been committed with a 3d gun. The un-governed mind.
Its strangewe never killed anyone with any of our homemade, unregistered weapons.
Currently, Dr. Xu is an Associate Professor of Computer Science and Engineering Department in the State University of New York (SUNY) at Buffalo, where he founds and directs the ESC (Embedded Sensing and Computing) Group.
He has published over 140 technical papers, co-authored 2 books and is a named inventor on several international and U.S. patents.
He received the Ph.D. degree from University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) in 2013. He got both M.S. degree in 2008 and B.S. degree in 2006 from Zhejiang University (both with honor), China.
hmm, what country has the most to fear it's population obtaining "unregistered guns? Fellow must have had PRC approval to travel abroad being such valuable asset to PRC.
It is actually edncoded several on each page but you wont find it with the naked eye. It is on the page several times but the components of each incidence are distributed. You will need a strong magnifying lens and you will need to compare like letters. What you are looking for is missing dots. A person who knows what they are looking for can find it in no time. You will have a problem. It has nothing to do with the print head. It is hard coded and is done so that it cannot be flashed. Changing out device memory or processor wont help either. The code is resident where you won’t find it. Laserjets use a very similiar process.
Don’t use your inkjet or laser printer for nefarious purposes. If the power that be want you bad enough the can trace you through it. You could try second or third hand equipment but that be traced as well. Dont forget about fingerprints or DNA - you’re shedding it all the time.
Right. Now I remember what Rush said — that it’s in the dots. Ever since then, years ago, I have always been careful about what I print and send.
And I’m am “ID Adict” so know all about DNA being left behind — skin cells, oil from skin, etc.
If someone considered living a life of crime in this day and age, it would be rough.
We use fine sandpaper for a final finish on the parts.
What a fun hobby with your dad! Must have been great times.
Most EXCELLENT observation. Very astute of you.
The 3D Printer ended up sinking to the bottom of the lake in a boating accident.
But its printed guns still work.
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