Associate professor of computer science receives funding for work to secure 3D printing

Irfan Ahmed, Ph.D.
Irfan Ahmed, Ph.D., associate professor of computer science

Irfan Ahmed, Ph.D., associate professor of computer science in the VCU College of Engineering, has received funding from the Commonwealth Cyber Initiative (CCI) for research that will help safeguard additive manufacturing from cyberattacks.

Ahmed, a specialist in digital forensics, system security and cyber-physical systems, will receive $121,000 for this project, which supports CCI’s mission to establish Virginia as a global leader in cybersecurity research.

Over the next year, Ahmed will develop a system to detect and ward off efforts to hack into industrial and military 3D printers to cause damage by manipulating parameters such as nozzle movement and temperature.

Current security methods use machine learning protocols that require printing each unique object in its protected environment. Ahmed’s innovation will allow more scalable protection, without the need for prior learning to print each individual object. The proposed method will align additive manufacturing with Industry 4.0 standards, which support mass-customization rather than bulk production.

Work on this project, titled “Spatiotemporal G-code Modeling for Additive Manufacturing Security,” will take place in Ahmed’s Security and Forensics Engineering (SAFE) lab.