Oct 14, 2011
Comments Off on 3D printing now with criminal intent

3D printing now with criminal intent

With general awareness of 3D printing on the increase, new applications for this technology appear to emerge almost on a weekly basis. We have seen 3D printing morph from a chocolate printer to a device with the potential to print human tissue and with this technology still in its infancy rumours circle that similar to the Internet, 3d printing will make its way into our homes becoming something taken for granted, a part of everyday life.

Despite this early promise, little did I expect to come across a story of how an ATM skimmer gang used 3D printers to steal over $400,000 but then again being the enterprising businessmen that most gangsters are, should I really be surprised?
ATM skimmers are electronic devices typically attached to the card slot of ATM machines, steal credit and debit card information from unsuspecting ATM users.

The appeal of 3D printing for ATM skimmer gangs lies in the complex design nature of such devices, in order to avoid detection each unit has to be carefully crafted to blend in with the targeted cash machine in both form and colour, a laborious process considering each particular ATM would require its own unique device.
Throw a 3D printer into the mix and the labour required for each device is considerably reduced. Now its simply a matter of snapping a few photos, taking some measurements and accessing 3d modelling software prior to hitting print and allowing the 3D printer do all the hard work.

3D printers are however costly with a high end desktop printer costing anywhere between $10,000 to $20,000 and while outsourcing printing to a prototyping bureau may appear like the next best option, however with 3d printing bureaus ever more vigilant, you run the risk of detection
While this negative application may taint the glow of 3D printing somewhat it is important to remember that 3D printing is not encouraging anything new, and in reality with costs of 3D printers high it is still easier to gain access to 3D skimmer kits than a 3D printer and CAD engineer.

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