Hing Kai Chan, Professor of Operations Management at the University of Nottingham Ningbo China (UNNC), and his team recently gained authorisation from the National Intellectual Property Office for the patent “Digital watermarking method for 3D printing models”. The new patent tracks and protects intellectual property in 3D printing.
“The toughest problem in 3D printing is not technology, but the protection of intellectual property,” Professor Chan introduces. At present, the anti-counterfeiting of 3D printing model is mainly achieved by embedding digital watermark into triangular mesh data, but not all the model files are in triangular mesh format, and the embedded digital watermark may be lost in printing and manufacturing.
The model invented by Professor Chan’s team uses the algorithm to transform the 3D spatial matrix similarity problem into 2D image matching problem with high accuracy in the detection result. Moreover, the digital watermark is almost invisible to the naked eye, which will not affect the appearance, but is unlikely to be lost.
“Our patent allows the use of watermarks to trace item-level information to protect intellectual property rights, including information such as the platform used and the individual in charge,” Professor Chan explained.
Professor Chan is now looking for relevant companies and institutions that can cooperate with to discuss the right to use the patent through licensing agreements or consulting projects.
“Getting a patent is the first step. I believe this patent has great potential and will play an important role in stimulating the development of 3D technology,” he said.
The registration of the patent took a total of three years and rigorous examination. This achievement came from the close collaboration between Professor Chan, Dr Hui Leng Choo (a former lecturer of the Faculty of Science and Engineering) and his doctoral student Jie Niu.
The team had close cooperation with the Law Schools of the University of Exeter, Durham University and the University of Sussex in the UK, and received funding support of nearly RMB 1 million from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (UK). They have also published papers in an international journal and the book Intellectual Property Rights and Emerging Technology: 3D Printing in China.
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University of Nottingham Ningbo China