Video: What is the Future of Additive Manufacturing?
James Anderton posted on July 10, 2018 |

James Anderton: Peter, we hear ‘industrial internet of things,’ ‘industry 4.0,’ and many more buzzwords which address the future of manufacturing. Some predict that the future is manufacturing as a service, where the engineer designs the part and then is not interested who manufactures the part, since it goes into the cloud and some company manufactures and delivers it. Others say the opposite, that this technology will pull more processes in-house, so the same engineer designs the protocol, manufactures the part, and so on.  

Peter Leys: Right.

JA: But at some point, there's a gray area: are the owners of the machine and the software responsible for the entire manufacturing process? When you buy the machine, do you want the software embedded into the machine? Do you buy software separately, and then have the software control the machine? Where do you spend the money, and who has control?

PL: Technology like 3D printing allows for the industry to go in two completely opposite directions. On one side, you have full control of the design cycle and the production cycle in one and the same location. Alternatively, indeed, you have somebody designing, they send it on to a platform, and that platform will then decide who will print it, where and when. These are two very opposite models that can both be perfectly empowered with the current technology that we have.

I would agree with you that the model of distributed manufacturing raises tons of new issues that go far beyond the technological questions as to, “can we realize this?” There are quite a few issues indeed, as you said, as to ownership: I send my file to the platform, but am I that comfortable that certain rights or that that the confidentiality that is crucial is protected? Just imagine that I send the prototype to the platform. I don't want the owner of the platform to have access to that prototype and then use it to serve other clients of that platform. But if I deny those rights to the owner of the platform, then I take away a big chunk of the value of the platform, because that's what the platform owners want. They want control over those data.

Now, if ten years ago you would have asked me am I willing to disclose constantly my location to Google, I'd say nonsense, of course not. On the other hand, if you then say but in exchange for that I will give you the comfort of being able to know all the times where you can take a taxi, what the shortest way is to your next destination, et cetera, I may start doubting. Similar questions will be raised in the industry. If you ask an engineer today, are you willing to give up certain rights to your design by just loading it up to a platform, they will say no. But if then in response people say, well maybe in exchange for some rights to your design I will give you information that will allow you to produce it more efficiently, as efficiently as certain competitors, the question will become more interesting.

Regardless, we will have to be able to manage the digital rights so that the engineer that is loading up their design to the platform at least has the choice to say, I want full confidentiality, I want nobody to have any access to those designs, or has the choice to say, yes, I want to give up certain rights in exchange for certain benefits.

JA: Materialise executive chairman Peter Leys says digital rights management will become an increasingly important part of the part design and manufacturing process.


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