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Could Metal AM Discourage Counterfeit Parts

Researchers at Texas A&M have developed a method to imprint a magnetic tag within metal parts for easier authentication (Courtesy Texas A&M)

Researchers from Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas, have developed a method of imprinting a hidden magnetic tag—encoded with authentication information—within manufactured hardware via metal AM. The process is expected to replace physical tags, like QR or barcodes, with imprinted tags to reduce counterfeiting.

Ensuring reliable authentication can become an issue of critical national concern. Without an easily available method to detect counterfeits, it can be nearly impossible to differentiate authentic parts or components from counterfeits.

The researchers used Directed Energy Deposition (DED) to embed magnetic tags below the surface of non-magnetic steel hardware. Once embedded, the magnetic tag is readable via a magnetic sensor device, such as a smartphone, by scanning near the correct location on the product, allowing the information to be easily accessed by the user. While other methods exist, the researchers at Texas A&M have stated these feature barriers to real-world implementation, notably the expensive equipment required to undertake these methods.

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