Blockchain technology might one day help manufacturers certify and trace 3-D-printed parts through their supply chains. 3-D printing manufacturers and experts at the Consensus 2018 conference in New York discussed a symbiotic relationship between blockchain and 3-D printing providers where distributed ledger technology could create a data source that identifies 3-D-printed parts and the machine and technician who created those parts, and the production environment.
Imagine the downtime and paperwork currently spent on finding a production error on a paper trail. Now imagine that gone. A distributed ledger blockchain technology could create an ideally error-free, trusted source of information for manufacturers and their customers throughout the supply chain independent of geography.
Blockchain technology could also enable decentralized, on-demand production. Eventually, it will become possible to fill customized orders from any location by spinning up production at the consumer’s location. A competitive strategy will force manufacturers to quickly onboard 3D-printer providers to meet the demands. An open-access trusted blockchain registry would enable users of such a system could enjoy a very fluid onboarding process, making it much easier to respond to customer demand when it arises.
This type of system will eliminate many of the middle-man steps involved in the current supply chain, reducing actual labor and greater value on the developer’s designs. Instead of a linear approach, supply chain systems could result in a more team-effort with each piece owner paid their share of the revenue.