Identify3D: Securing the Digital Supply Chain

CIO VendorStephan Thomas, Co-Founder & CSO and Joe Inkenbrandt, Co- Founder & CEO
With the exponential growth of digital technologies, manufacturing supply chains are evolving into cyber physical systems driven by data. However, the digitalization also increases the vulnerability of the data files and industrial assets, exposing them to an array of multi-vector threats. Every time a file moves in a supply chain, it has a number of risks associated with it—the risk of being stolen, altered, or misplaced. San Francisco-based Identify3D is helping enterprises curb their risk by securing their intellectual property (IP), and assuring manufacturing repeatability and traceability. Identify3D offers an advanced digital supply chain platform that facilitates secure distribution of data related to the manufacturing of parts to ensure they are made to exact specification by authorized parties. With our ‘secure container’ approach, users can send a digital file to hundreds of machines at the same time enabling a true decentralized manufacturing process in which parts are produced at the time and place of need,” says Stephan Thomas, Co-Founder & Chief Strategy Officer, Identify3D.

At the outset, Identify3D’s solution allows designers to create a secure container in which they store any type of geometric, build files and assign its associated contractual and manufacturing licensing rights. While contractual licensing authorized users to produce a certain number of parts for a given period of time, manufacturing licensing allows them to decide which equipment and resources should be used via manufacturing rights. Based on these licensing rights, only the selected entity having the authorization can gain access to the secure container for producing the part.

Identify3D’s supply chain platform incorporates several key components, Protect, Manage, Enforce, and Trace. Identify3D Protect capacitates industrial designers to encrypt files and merge them with business and production rules. The encrypted container stocks all the required files including computer-aided design (CAD), .stl, build files, etc.

With our ‘secure container’ approach, users can send digital files to multiple machines simultaneously enabling decentralized manufacturing processes

Then, Identify3D’s license server, Manage, handles the licensing of the files. When files move from one supply chain stakeholder or system to another, Manage keeps track of the licenses and prevents unauthorized distribution. Once an order is sent for production, Enforce will check at the level of the machine that all requirements are met and will decrypt the file for production per the available license. During the process, every time the file and its license move in the supply chain, an event record is kept in Trace, ensuring full traceability from design to manufacturing.

Identify3D has partnered with some major players in the digital supply chain by integrating its technologies into their products. Currently, the firm’s software is integrated with SINUMERIK, Siemens’ CNC controller while collaborating with companies such as SAP, Materialise, EOS, and Renishaw. These integrations will be demonstrated at both RAPID and Hannover Messe in April. With effective collaborations in place, Identify3D’s end-to-end solution works for both additive and subtractive manufacturing and will ultimately enable decentralized manufacturing.

Identify3D has helped several companies to overcome the security and access control challenges in the manufacturing industry. For instance, one of their clients wanted to send their machinery to their customer’s location so that the customer can manufacture products on location and on demand. The challenge for the client was to protect the IP stored in the machinery from unauthorized access. By utilizing Identify3D’s technology, the client is able to provide customer access to the machinery while still maintaining control of the data stored in that machinery.

Identify3D is focused on exploring use cases in a number of industries such as aerospace and defense, energy, medical devices, and the automotive industry. “We will continue integrating with new software platforms and machine manufacturers to deliver all the necessary tools for our customers,” says Thomas.