Fingerprinting 3D Printers using Commodity Scanners

Things they can track back to you

The University at Buffalo has come up with a way to track prints back to the owner. They call it PrinTracker. They use a scanning method that is focused on your printers Infill setting. They believe that they can now start tracking down people that would use these printers for illegal endeavors.

As 3D printing technology begins to outpace traditional manufac-
turing, malicious users increasingly have sought to leverage this
widely accessible platform to produce unlawful tools for crimi-
nal activities. Therefore, it is of paramount importance to identify
the origin of unlawful 3D printed products using digital forensics.
Traditional countermeasures, including information embedding
or watermarking, rely on supervised manufacturing process and
are impractical for identifying the origin of 3D printed tools in
criminal applications.
They Use a scanner to look at the prints Infill layers. The paper talks about how printers all vary when it comes to this setting. depending on how large the printer is down to how the drivers are tuned. They can get an accurate idea of why made this based on how the printers behave during the printing process.
Owing to the hardware imperfections in the above
mechanical components, the variation caused by the system inte-
gration leads to a substantial impact on the printing [
]. While
the printing performance might remain unaffected, these discrep-
ancies are sufficient to alter the line formation of the printed object
and induce a unique and measurable fingerprint which is associ-
ated with the mechatronic structure of the source 3D printer. Each
printing process on a specific 3D printer is different; however, the
fingerprint is consistent and repeatable due to the inevitability of
hardware imperfections in the mechanical components according
to their processing level [
]. We further illustrate the influence of
3D printer variation on a 3D printed object in Section 3.

I’ve read through this and in time this could be very easily made to find people based on the prints they make. The cats out of the bag but I wonder about potential unintended consequences. Let me know what you think about this below.