GE files patent to trace 3-D printed parts with blockchain
- General Electric (GE) filed a patent to use a distributed ledger to trace and validate 3-D printed parts in its supply chain, FreightWaves reports.
- "Advances in [3-D printing] technology have increased the ability to perform these manufacturing processes faster and more accurately than ever before," according to the patent application. But "using arbitrary manufacturing equipment and material introduces certain technical challenges related to the verification and validation of constructed objects."
- The patent application does not explicitly say GE plans to use blockchain for verification. However, it does say "the distributed ledger may be a blockchain ledger" and hints the process "may include determining that the transaction is digitally signed by the author."
As 3-D printed parts have become increasingly popular for small-parts manufacturers as well as consumers and individuals, it has become more difficult for big companies further up the supply chain — like GE — to validate the authenticity of those parts.
Using a distributed ledger like blockchain could help companies foolproof their supply chains and avoid counterfeits and faulty parts. Supply chains in a variety of industries are already experimenting with blockchain to find practical use cases to strengthen supply chain security and verify quality.
"The build file may include an identifier electronically signed by an author of the build file, and validating the build file may include accessing the distributed ledger to verify an authoring transaction between the author of the build file and the distributed ledger during creation of the build file," the application reads.
It goes on to elaborate that using a distributed ledger allows the manufacturer and the part's final destination to both electronically sign off on the part, thus verifying its authenticity.
GE has been experimenting with 3-D printing for a while, but using blockchain to streamline that integration into its supply chain further helps verify blockchain as a useable technology that isn't just hype. The company's patent application shows there can be more specific, narrowly defined use cases for blockchain within supply chains.
- FreightWaves General Electric files patent to use blockchain in 3D-manufacturing process
- US Patent & Trademark Office Methods and Systems fro Implementing Distributed Ledger Manufacturing History
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