Keeping track of 3D printed objects without any bar codes? Yes, this has been made possible by another innovative technology from Microsoft which will embed coded tags in 3D printed objects. This technology will tentatively be called InfraStructs which was announced during the SIGGRAPH 2013 conference. Scientists at Microsoft Research said that in this technology, the same 3D printing process used to produce an object can simultaneously generate internal, invisible tags.
These tags can be read using a terahertz (THz) imaging scanner. The terahertz scanning device can read all coded information and decode them.
This method involves creation of objects with varying internal gaps or bubbles which forms patterns. These patterns are then observed using THz scanner, which is also used for the same level of scanning used in airport, medical imaging, etc. It refers to electromagnetic radiations that falls between 300 and 3000 Ghz with wavelength 1mm or shorter. These radiations then penetrate through the objects and since they do not harm organic matters like the nuclear radiations, they are ideal for imaging the insides of objects. With the analysis of the rate at which the THz radiation beams pass through an object, the scanner locates the gaps that make up the ID pattern and thus all kinds of data related to the object can be known.
The beneficial part of InfraStructs is that it would eliminate the need for electronic chips or bar codes for a specific product. The present use of identification systems such as radio-frequency ID tags adds to manufacturing cost and complexity and bar codes are vulnerable to tampering. So with InfraStructs it would become easier since manufacturers can embed unique information related to the product such as serial number or simple programs in coded tags by designing them as a part of the 3D printed product.