IBM Blockchain Collaboration Brings Forth New Platform for Industrial 3D Printing

The additive manufacturing industry has experienced significant growth in recent years and is continuing to grow rapidly. This includes automotive, aerospace, and medical technology industry sectors, to name a few.

The market is growing due to 3 major factors. Additive manufacturing allows for more efficiency, flexibility, and monetary savings. If a new part can be created to meet a new requirement or if a spare part can be created rather than finding and waiting for one to arrive, it saves everyone time, energy, and money.

It also allows for the creation of unique parts or smaller quantities which has been a difficult feat for manufacturing in the past. However, for 3D printing to go mainstream, it requires the creation of a platform and so, thyssenkrupp and IBM are doing just that.

Essentially, customers will send their plans and designs in the form of CAD files. Because this information is so valuable to these companies, it is important that their intellectual property is properly secured. The need for decentralization is important so that not only the data is protected, but the usage of this data is monitored. thyssenkrupp propelled the idea and  IBM complimented this innovation with its Blockchain technology.

The new platform will allow for smaller companies to access additive technology without all of the difficulty and expense. It will also streamline planning and ensure greater quality control in manufacturing.

Combined, the Blockchain technology of The Linux Foundation’s Hyperledger Fabric provides traceability and consistency and the Industrial Data Space (IDS) provides for secure data transfer. What is crucial is that companies maintain control of their data and can enforce whatever privacy measures they see fit. Data can therefore only be accessed by approved partners upon request.

On the other hand, the Blockchain technology allows for transparency in individual exchanges between network partners.

In terms of the additive manufacturing industry, the consulting and design provider chooses a 3D printer after a bid, a “smart contract” is then created and the data is securely transferred through IDS. All information is stored in the Blockchain in case it is required in the future. Everything is traceable which is what manufacturing companies were looking for.

The benefits of such a network are endless, but a Blockchain solution must be proven valuable to all partners. The partnership of thyssenkrupp and IBM demonstrates that individual members do benefit in an additive manufacturing situation.

This led to identifying the first potential participants and their partners as well as other potential uses of the technology. What is so significant is that the design of the project keeps the user in mind from start to finish.

This ensures that the creators focus only on what is necessary and what adds value. The successful collaboration between thyssenkrupp and IBM and the integration of Blockchain technology and Industrial Data Space (IDS) proves to be the future of a digital platform for a more secure and faster way of sharing intellectual property.

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