3D Printing’s Impact on Security Research

Mark Stanislav
Jan 10, 2015 · 2 min read

For the last year or so, one thing I seem to just end up saying during presentations about the “Internet of Things” is that anyone with a 3D printer, a SoC, and a cloud server can basically make an IoT device.

This just got a lot more true.

Voxel8, combined with Autodesk’s “Project Wire”, allows for 3D printing with conductive ink inside of the layers of the device for circuitry. Further, other components can be sandwiched into the shell as printing occurs. This means that a final result could be a cocoon of hardened plastic around the guts of the device with no real way to “open” it gracefully.

While hardware hacking isn’t without a few broken devices in the process, typically you can take off a hard plastic shell and expose circuitry without going insane—at least in IoT devices. In this case, however, just trying to access circuits may ruin them and components inside may face trauma trying to pry them out.

I have full confidence that some people will still be just fine, but for many of us whose research skills aren’t to an expert level, this could pose a dramatic increase in effort to do simple hardware hacking during research.

I will be curious to see how long it is before we see devices on Kickstarter and similar printing their IoT devices out to save on supply chain headaches and potentially cost. At scale it may not be practical but with enough lead time, this could be a real benefit to low-volume IoT manufacturing.

For $9000, I could imagine quite a few incubators and hacker spaces will end up with one on their bench. It’s an exciting time, for sure.

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