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Study: 'Fingerprint' for 3D Printer Accurate 92% of Time

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Structure of a three-dimensional printer.

University at Buffalo researchers have developed a way to track the origins of items produced by three-dimensional printers.

Credit: University at Buffalo News Center

To reduce illicit use of three-dimensional (3D) printers, the University at Buffalo (UB)'s Zhanpeng Jin and colleagues devised a method to accurately identify each machine’s unique "fingerprint."

The researchers determined each hot end of a printer's extruders has specific thermodynamic properties, which affect the precise way the 3D model is assembled; this heating signature, or ThermoTag, can identify the specific extruder, and by extension the model of 3D printer used.

Once the printer model is identified, its buyer can be traced in instances in which they may have used the printer for unlawful purposes.

The UB researchers said they were able to correctly identify a source printer with 92% accuracy using this method.

From University at Buffalo News
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