Writing for Military Embedded Systems, Editorial Director John McHale confirms 3D printing has made its way into the military embedded computing realm, with suppliers exploiting the technology to accelerate production and reduce development costs.
“They can save thousands of dollars by printing heat sinks, connectors, components and even printed circuit boards,” he explained.
“The Department of Defense (DoD) is notorious for kicking tires on new technology for years before deploying it in mission-critical applications – and only after rigorous testing. However, with 3D printing they seem to be doing more than kicking the tires.”
Indeed, Wayne Plucker, Industry Manager at Frost & Sullivan in San Antonio, Texas, told Military Embedded Systems that the U.S. Air Force is currently looking at 3D printing as a way to cost-effectively maintain parts for aircraft fleets.
“[Meanwhile], the Navy is [already] doing a lot of 3D printing, or additive manufacturing, largely in metal sorts of things such as replacing classic metal brackets,” he said. “For example, if they need an unusual complex shape or something like that they will use a 3D printer to create a part, which only requires minimal machining.”
With higher end 3D printers potentially turning out critical military components for the U.S. Armed Forces, it is absolutely essential for suppliers to avoid low-quality filament and counterfeit cartridges. As Gartner noted in a 2014 analysis, features such as locked-in materials, often available only in vendor-specific cartridges as with 2D printers, maximizes the likelihood the material will work well.
“Manufacturers operating 3D printers, especially higher-end units producing medical or military components, cannot afford serious malfunction or damage caused by sub-par filament or counterfeit cartridges,” Michael Mehlberg, Senior Director of Business Development for Government Solutions at the Rambus Cryptography Research Division, explained. “To ensure the use of verified filament and cartridges, 3D printers should be equipped with a hardware-based security block that provides secure authentication and reduces the risk of counterfeiting.”
A Consumable Protection System (CPS) such as the CryptoFirewall solution developed by Cryptography Research would provide the necessary security, comprising two primary components: the tamper-resistant CryptoFirewall Consumable Core on the cartridge/filament side and CryptoFirewall Verifier or firmware-based authentication in the printer itself.
The CryptoFirewall Consumable core is authenticated by the printer SoC via firmware or by an integrated CryptoFirewall Verifier core. This verification paradigm avoids the need for any special hardware support in the printer, while the optional CryptoFirewall Verifier core adds protection against firmware tampering.
Marvell’s PA800 is just one example of a consumable security chip that successfully implements the Cryptography Research Consumable CryptoFirewall (CCF) technology. According to Greg Allen, VP of the Printer Business Unit at Marvell, the PA800 is a very low-cost, low pin count chip that enables devices to cryptographically verify both authenticity and usage across components lifecycle.
With the PA800, security is maintained through the entire supply chain via a unique multi-stage provisioning solution, beginning at the chip foundry through when the PA800 is installed. The PA800 is available to original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) directly and from a secure programming service and distribution channel. Perhaps most importantly, the PA800 can be quickly deployed into future or existing systems.
Interested in learning more about the CryptoFirewall Verifier core? You can check out the product’s official page here.