Cybersecurity Risks for Additive Manufacturers in Supply Chain

By Logistics Tech Outlook | Friday, August 30, 2019

To maintain the coherence in the additive manufacturing supply chain, companies must recognize that their business' intrinsic value can shift from the end product to the information that makes it possible for that end product.

FREMONT, CA: Additive manufacturing (AM) has transformed the manufacturing industry, altering the layout, production, distribution, and maintenance of products among producers in all sectors fundamentally. AM allows a quicker and more flexible supply chain to accelerate the prototyping process, reduce time to market, reduce waste, and better meet final customer requirements.

When data and information are transmitted, used, or accessed, it is necessary that companies should predict that anybody can attempt to use that information for personal use or to cause damage or harm. Recognizing this unfortunate truth is not just imperative for organizations using AM technology, but is possibly a question of life and death.

AM is an environment with a particularly significant threat to cyber risks. However, it cannot face significant security exposure, from product malfunctions to intellectual property theft and brand risk along with new dangers from conventional manufacturers, given the very nature of additive fabrication technology which relies on digital data files and connectivity to transmit them.

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The challenge of implementing an integral AM cybersecurity protocol is further challenged by the broad scope of the AM supply chain from suppliers and AM systems operators and buyers to AM products suppliers and buyers. Every digital thread stage can impact cyber risk from design and scan, quality control and printing, field use, and even disposal of AM objects or printers. Cyber risk can affect digital thread processing. Also, as this new production becomes more productive, new challenges emerge through the security vulnerabilities in the supply chain.

To maintain the integrity of the supply chain, companies must acknowledge that their business ' intrinsic value may be transferred from the end product to the information enabling the end product. To secure this value, one must go beyond the own file and consider all possible entry points within the system and across the digital thread, where unauthorized parties may access information. Considering that the digital thread ranges from design, construction, quality control and testing to delivery and distribution, the vast cybersecurity challenge in AM is unmistakable.

During the construction process, manufacturers can search for emerging standards to protect their AM processes. Leading procedures in the field of follow-up and tracing across the supply chain develops. While the expenses and business processes connected with the application of these evolving alternatives need to be examined, they can be promising in terms of product safety across the entire supply chain and decreasing the probability of manipulation, robbery and counterfeiting. Also, a reliable quality assurance methodology can assist organizations, among other structural adulterations; identify tool path changes or other misalignments.

In addition to adding traceable materials during the construction process or quality assurance monitoring, the companies can consider implementing measures to protect their machines. Organizations should use AM printers, including reviews, and authorized approvals, that will implement change management/control workflows on printers and items. To ensure that only approved an AM printer prints objects, the printer can be network isolate and controlled, so that the printer can be submitted directly by only recommended designers.

Overall, AM provides outstanding commitment to democratize and to market, to reduce waste and to make it possible for new products and specialty products to be produced quickly. There are many efforts to identify and promote extensive and sustainable AM cyber procedures using norms and new regulation where necessary. Immediate measures, such as safety risk assessment, mitigation schedules, layout documents, printer protection, and stakeholder training, can now be taken to understand and tackle AM cyber safety issues.

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