Cincy Start-Up Protects Your 3D Design And Makes Sure It Works

Jan 23, 2017

Every year the 3D global market is losing $100 billion due to manufacturing theft according to the latest statistics. Those losses could eventually total 30 percent of the market according to the head of the Cincinnati start-up, Physna.

Physna says its special software, to protect 3D printed objects by dissecting and analyzing them, is in beta testing and will come to market in February.

CEO Paul Powers's background is in intellectual property law and he says right now it is very easy to steal somebody's design. "Everything from toys to simple things that you would expect to be 3D printed all the way up to things you wouldn't want or you didn't even know about being 3D printed like the TSA master key that gets in all luggage. That can be 3D printed right now and unfortunately it was hacked several times."

WVXU's Ann Thompson talks to Physna's head tech guy Glenn Warner who has printed out almost identical plastic blocks that the software can detect differences.
Credit Physna

The Physna software can unravel the DNA-like properties of physical objects in seconds to discover any differences. Using math, artificial intelligence, physics and complicated algorithms, it breaks the information down into tens of thousands of data bits and compares it to tens of thousands of other data bits to create a digital model. Powers says this is different than what others have done by using visual analysis.

Powers says, "Here's an analogy. If you had a cat and somebody took a picture of it and put it on Google Images, good luck finding your cat with search terms because there are so many cats there. We would be able to narrow it down to that exact cat."

Physna is focusing on these three areas:

  • Intellectual Property Protection
  • Quality Control in Business
  • Liability Protection in Schools

The reason Physna can detect 3D copies is because developers have to upload their design to a 3D print program like Slicer. The Cincinnati company has access to this and other programs.

IP protection: According to Powers, "So once the model is in our database any other model will automatically be matched to that and if it includes a certain threshold and being matched for 3D printing, our software will be able to block that and say you cannot print this or develop this anyway without having authorization to do so."

Business quality control: "If there is a heart valve that has to be implanted and you want to make sure that it is accurate there are some physical properties of things the human eye doesn't detect very well and sometimes can't detect. The software can detect every variation.

Schools: Physna can prevent kids from printing out weapons and 3D objects that are licensed.

In the future, Powers say the company's artificial intelligence will determine how to fix the design of a 3D object that doesn't work. He also intends to improve 3D facial recognition and the detection of cancerous tumors.