Ways to combat the increasing risk posed by criminals making use of 3D printing technology to steal shipments of cargo across the world have been drawn up by the UK-based security group G4S.
With 3D printing, the criminals can create counterfeit security devices in just 10 minutes, open cargo seals, reproduce and replace seals to hide signs of tampering and make it difficult to pinpoint the exact time or location of the theft.
Counterfeit cargo seals, security locks and security keys have all been created and used by criminals utilising the 3D printing technology.
“Technology that once required an understanding of computer-aided design and expensive and large equipment to fabricate items now costs in the range of hundreds of pounds and doesn’t require the same knowledge levels as before,” said Robert Dodge, senior vice president, G4S Corporate Risk Services.
“For a few hundred pounds, a person can purchase a 3D scanner to produce a nearperfect replica. But criminals do not even need to purchase their own 3D printers; they can easily send the specifications or pictures to any number of 3D printing companies or individuals around the world without any questions asked.”
G4S said there are steps that can be taken to lessen the risk of being targeted. Simple things like changing the design, colour and markings on security seals make life difficult for criminals, but ultimately any measure can be replicated by a criminal.
Even using metal is no guarantee that seals will be impossible to copy, as the more advanced 3D printers can use metal alloys to fabricate products.