Nara Institute of Science and Technology (NAIST) scientists have developed a new method for embedding information in a 3D printed object and retrieving it using a consumer document scanner.
According to PhD. student Arnaud Delmotte, professor Yasuhiro Mukaigawa, associate professor Takuya Funatomi, assistant professors Hiroyuki Kubo and Kenichiro Tanaka – information such as a serial ID can be embedded without modifying the shape of the object.
This can then be simply extracted from a single image of a commercially available document scanner.
There are several technologies for 3D printing, but the most commonly used – Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) – consists of deposing layers of molten plastic on top of each other.
Generally, plastic deposition is performed with layers of constant thickness.
However, in the proposed method, pairs of vertically adjacent layers are selected, and their thickness balance is modified according to the information that gets embedded via ‘Digital Watermarking’.
Digital watermarking is a technology that embeds information inside digital contents such as image, audio, video, and 3D models.
Some methods, such as barcode and QR code, embed information in a visible way. Other methods embed it covertly, with the additional information hidden in the content and not perceivable by the user.
In this research, NAIST has proposed embedding a watermark during the printing of an object itself.
The team has also focused on minimizing the distortion on the outer shape to prevent perturbation on the original function of the object.
Since a standard layer thickness is about 0.2mm, information can be embedded in a relatively small area ranging from several millimeters to a few centimeters.
Image and content: NAIST