Hiding Contraband in Encrypted 3D Models

A British designer creates software for the sole-purpose of hiding embargoed 3D models.

3d printing, model, gun, encryption, software, London, design, thingiverse, imaterialize, copyrightIn an effort to hide embargoed 3D models from authorities, University of London technologist Mathew Plummer-Fernandez has created software that can re-arrange a model, rendering its original design imperceptible.

According to Plummer-Fernandez his new software, named “Disarming Corruptor”, was born from a frustration with online 3D printing clearinghouses. While trying to upload an artistic rendition of Mickey Mouse to iMaterilize, algorithms within the site rejected the model on the grounds of copyright infringement.

Plummer-Fernandez was further frustrated when he learned Thingiverse had decided to remove / ban 3D models of weapons on their site.

In an interview with Forbes, Plummer-Fernandez expressed his deep concern: “I was confronting all these taboos showing up in 3D-printing around copyrighted material and 3D-printed weapons, and I think these services are leaving their users out to dry.”

In Plummer-Fernandez’s mind, the only way to fix this problem was to subvert the model uploading process by encrypting the designs.

The way it works is pretty simple. A user with any model, whether it be contraband or not, imports their .stl file into the Disarming Corruptor software. Once imported, seven factors that determine a model’s polygon arrangement can be distorted to render the model unrecognizable. At the same time, the software generates a 7-digit code which can be shared within secure communities, allowing downloaders to unencrypt the model.

According to Cody Wilson, founder of 3D printed gun maker Defense Distributed, “[Disarming Corruptor] explodes the idea that there will be certain shapes we can guard against. Information itself is plastic, and it can be molded and changed”.

Regardless of where you come down on the 3D printed weapon debate, there’s no point in denying the creativity exhibited in Plummer-Fernandez’s software; for while it isn’t a very robust solution for disguising potentially dangerous or illicit 3D models, it does bring into sharp focus the disruptive nature of 3D printing technology.

Source: Forbes