The World Economic Forum, an international non-profit foundation based in Switzerland, believes that the 3D printing and blockchain technologies have a disruptive relationship which can revolutionize traditional methods of manufacturing.
3D printing technology, also known as additive manufacturing (AM), is a class of processes utilized to synthesize three-dimensional objects. This relatively young technology has developed exponentially over the past few years, expanding into the medical and biomanufacturing industries with innovative methods of creating objects are either expensive or time consuming to construct with traditional manufacturing processes.
The rapid development of the 3D printing technology led to a surge in the demand for the technology, allowing dominant companies in the 3D printing market such as 3D systems to reach a US$1.5 billion dollar valuation.
With 3D printing technology being established and recognized as one of the more disruptive and applicable technologies being developed today, research institutions and nonprofit foundations including the World Economic Forum have begun to explore the possibility of combining a transparent and real-time data storing technologies like the blockchain technology.
The concept introduced in WEC’s paper entitled “3D printing and Blockchain Could Change World Trade as we Know It” is the idea of distributing 3D printing tasks on a production network built on a blockchain network for real-time visibility and transparency.
More specifically, the WEC identifies the ability of a blockchain network to store and handle data on a decentralized and transparent manner, which can be implemented onto 3D printing data storing systems.
“Companies are already working with subsidiaries, contractors, partners, and customers spread out globally. In order to make this work, data must move,” read the report. “3DP and blockchain reinforces this requirement, including the need to move personal data since it is produced and used in all parts of the production process,” it continued.
However, the foundation believes a regulating party must be involved in the process of implementing the blockchain network, to follow various regulations on data protection.