MM: Thwarting 3D Printing Hacks; Biofabric Keeps You Cool

In this Manufacturing Minute episode, protecting 3D-printed prototypes and a bacteria-laden fabric that could help keep you cool.

 Protecting 3D-Printed Prototypes

Intellectual property theft is not a new concern for manufacturers, but the threat has taken on increased urgency as 3D printing becomes more and more integral to the prototyping and production process.

3D printing generally requires companies to share computer-aided design files via email or the cloud either internally or to third parties, which could make their design files vulnerable to hacking and, eventually, to counterfeiting.

Many companies use encryption, passwords and other safeguards to keep promising products protected, but there's not much they can do if their data is actually stolen.

Engineers from New York University, however, say they've developed a way to turn the tables on even successful hackers.

The NYU system deliberately embeds hidden flaws in CAD files which disappear when the part is printed under a very specific set of conditions.

Without those conditions, counterfeiters would be left with only weak or defective parts to show for their efforts. 


Could this method prompt even more manufacturers to embrace 3D printing? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below.

Biofabric Designed To Keep You Cool

It used to be the words “E. coli” would have people running for the hills in fear of getting sick. However, scientific advancements are finding seemingly endless possibilities for these rod-shaped bacteria.

The most recent development is a bacteria-ridden “biofabric” that responds to heat and moisture. Researchers at MIT developed the responsive fabric by using a nonpathogenic strain of E. coli that is known to swell and shrink in response to humidity changes. The live microbial cells are then “printed” onto latex and fashioned into a running shirt.

Using heat and sweat maps, the thumbnail to finger-sized biofabric flaps are located where they would be most effective. When the microbes sense heat and humidity on the skin, the flaps open helping to cool the wearer. A support layer underneath keeps the microbes from coming into actual contact with the skin.

Researchers say this is just the beginning. They were also able to engineer the cells to glow green when they sense moisture, which could be beneficial to those running in the dark. Other future possibilities could be adding odor-releasing abilities through genetic engineering which would allow a shirt to release a nice smell after a hard workout at the gym.


What do you think about using genetically engineered bacteria in clothing? In what other ways could this heat and humidity sensing technology be used?  Let us know what you think in the comments below.

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