September 18, 2015 | Industry Insights

Criminal Use of 3D Printing Involved in Stolen Cargo

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Additive manufacturing, better known as 3D Printing, involves a process of making three-dimensional solid objects from a digital file. The creation of a 3D-printed object is achieved by laying down successive layers of material until the entire object is created. Each of these layers can be seen as a thinly sliced horizontal cross-section of the eventual object. The construction is achieved by computer control of one or more liquid or solid materials. Typical materials are synthetic resins, plastics, ceramics and metals. While this new technology has allowed for tremendous possibilities in the manufacturing of products, 3D Printing is also big business for those involved in criminal activities – from manufacturing knock-offs to producing ATM skimmers. In fact, well-respected research firm Gartner projects that counterfeit trademarked goods in 2018 to be at the 100 billion dollar per-year mark.

Criminals have also found a way to use 3D Printing to steal shipped cargo, and have it go undiscovered prior to making it to its final destination, as was a case brought to light last month. In August, a Swiss freight forwarding and logistics company issued a memo to its customers regarding the theft of pharmaceutical goods. According to the memo, the shipper sent the pharmaceutical goods using the appropriate seals. However, when the container arrived and the seals removed, the customer found most of the product was unfortunately stolen.

It turns out that the goods had been stolen in transit with the original seals discarded. The container was resealed with new fake seals. Investigators determined that these fake seals were reproduced using 3D printers. In fact, investigations proved they were very good replicas and could be prepared in less than 10 minutes using a 3D printer.

As organized crime groups leverage emerging technology to find new ways to expand their illegal businesses, the security of business supply chains becomes increasingly important to help stem losses. This includes being aware of the types of security breaches that can be carried out, including the use of 3D Printing to reproduce products designed to protect cargo.

Roanoke Trade specializes in providing logistics service providers with comprehensive insurance solutions to address and respond to the various complex exposures this industry faces. We are also committed to keeping you up to date with emerging risks so that you can take precautions to minimize your exposures. To speak to a Roanoke specialist about your insurance protection, please contact us at 1-800-ROANOKE (800-762-6653).




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