The blockchain continues to gain in relevance with each passing day! With both 3D printing and blockchain being cutting-edge technologies affecting almost all industrial verticals, conglomerates and technological enterprises around the world are investing in research, development and adoption of these technologies. The industrial giant, General Electric (GE) had recently filed a patent application to optimize the quality of 3D printed objects in its supply chain. The idea employs blockchain technology to create a database that would record, analyze, validate and hence, verify 3D products and the 3D printing process in the supply chain.
What does the patent application include?
The patent filing states that GE shall create a blockchain-based manufacturing framework that would include systems and methods for implementing a historical data record of the additive production process with in-built validation capabilities that shall be incorporated into the additive manufacturing hardware. This will help them to track and authenticate 3D printed objects. Additionally, it will successfully address one of the most glaring issues found with industrial additive manufacturing: the absence of a framework to ensure the certification of 3D printed parts.
GE is one of the biggest manufacturing leaders to have integrated blockchain technology in its primary additive manufacturing processes. With the increased adoption of additive manufacturing process, industrialists have voices serious concerns over 3D printed models being compromised or altered. Such issues can be addressed by creating a decentralized blockchain network that can be accessed by the authorities concerned and can be corrected before extensive loss is caused. The patent filed by GE in December 2017, explains that the users on the receiving end of the model are unable to verify whether a 3D printable part was assembled using the accurate build file and manufacturing process, even if the printable replacement part was shared with them.
The integration of a blockchain creates an efficient and seamless framework to verify and authenticate data and to prevent a 3D file or printing process from being modified without authorization. As per the patent file, General Electric is planning to use the advanced technology to validate their parts in the supply chain, track them and certify every part that goes into the final lap of mass-production. This recently-published patent filing was released by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) on 21st June, 2018. It is expected to set an example for various other companies and industries to adopt the technology to improve the efficiency and fix existing issues in the current processes.
Besides the patent GE has also joined the Blockchain in Transport Alliance (BiTA), a blockchain consortium that aims reform the cargo transport aspects using blockchain and its elements. Thus, the manufacturing giant is adopting the technology to reform and revolutionize various aspects of the manufacturing process, ranging from production to logistics.