Report warns that evildoers might be able to exploit 3D printers, stealing, altering designs, or making them explode #3DThursday #3DPrinting

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Here’s a somewhat odd development currently being circulated in the 3D printing community — news of the draft of a government report called “Risk Management for Replication Devices” released by National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) that warns about a range of risks for 3D printers. And while some of these risks would apply to any automated fabrication tool in the world, we found it interesting to look at 3D printers from this perspective for a moment: the first time “3D Printer is going to explode” has been discussed literately instead of as a positive metaphor. 😉


This week, a report by the U.S. Department of Commerce surfaced warning government defense contractors about the dangers that 3D printing can hold. And no, this isn’t about threats to traditional forms of fabrication or the addictive nature of 3D printing, but about the dangers of hacked or exploding printers. While intended for defense contractors who use 3D printing to construct metal parts and use metal powders, these guidelines are definitely an interesting read for regular 3D printing enthusiasts as well.

This report was developed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology – NIST, which is part of the Department of Commerce – to warn contractors of the various vulnerable and exploitable points in the way 3D printing is used by various companies, and is not something that has come out of nowhere.

The U.S. government has recently been looking into the possibilities and dangers this new branch of technology holds. This summer the FBI bought a $32,000 Stratasys Objet 24 3D Printer for the Terrorist Explosive Device Analytical Center, to investigate 3D printings applicability for developing guns and explosives.

And earlier in the year, the Massachusetts-based 3D printing company Powderpart was fined by The Occupational Safety and Health Administration for an actual explosion. The company supposedly failed in containing various sources of potential ignition, such as titanium and aluminum alloys. An explosion that seriously injured an employee occurred in 2013.

Following that trend, this report now warns for a variety of other dangers – large and small – to raise awareness about security issues surrounding 3D printing. Obviously, you could wonder to what extent this consists of common sense and responsible behavior. But even if you’re not trying to construct metal parts for weapons, anyone working with 3D printing in a professional setting could benefit from some added security….

Read More.

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Every Thursday is #3dthursday here at Adafruit! The DIY 3D printing community has passion and dedication for making solid objects from digital models. Recently, we have noticed electronics projects integrated with 3D printed enclosures, brackets, and sculptures, so each Thursday we celebrate and highlight these bold pioneers!

Have you considered building a 3D project around an Arduino or other microcontroller? How about printing a bracket to mount your Raspberry Pi to the back of your HD monitor? And don’t forget the countless LED projects that are possible when you are modeling your projects in 3D!

The Adafruit Learning System has dozens of great tools to get you well on your way to creating incredible works of engineering, interactive art, and design with your 3D printer! We also offer the LulzBot TAZ – Open source 3D Printer and the Printrbot Simple Metal 3D Printer in our store. If you’ve made a cool project that combines 3D printing and electronics, be sure to let us know, and we’ll feature it here!

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