Preform files for securing stl?

Hey all, so a client needs a model I worked on to print. However I don’t wish to give out the stl as I do not want them to modify it. So I was thinking of setting it up for printing in a preform file (assuming they have access to a Form printer). That way they can print as many copies as they like and not be able to export the model and edit it outside of Preform. Does that sound right? Or have people found ways to extract a model/stl from preform files?

Assuming they have a Formlabs printer, give 'em your .FORM file. There used to be a way to get an STL from a .FORM, but at some point FL changed the file structure and that method stopped working.

If they don’t have a FL printer, you’re going to need to give them a STL. But there are programs that use “steganography” (hiding secret data in an otherwise unprotected file) to watermark a STL file. The watermark data is hidden in the STL without affecting the STL. It survives modifications of the STL, including breaking the STL in to separate files. And it allows you to uniquely identify a STL file if you find it in the wild.

Watermark your STL and give it to your client, let 'em know the file is prohibited from modification or distribution, and that it’s watermarked so that it can be uniquely identified, even if modified.

It doesn’t protect you from someone who’s motivated to duplicate your work. Like locks on doors, they only really keep honest people out. Someone wants to leverage your artwork for their own design, there’s not a lot you can do about it. But it’d give you the tools to pursue them if suddenly they start manufacturing something that’s similar to your design. In court, they’d be required to produce the source file and the watermark would be detected if it used your file for its initial starting point.

if someone has the technical skills to alter your design, he’ll do it…
The easiest is to 3d design/replicate your item, or 3d scan it as stl and make alternations.
Maybe you should focus more on the relationship you have with them so either a)they don’t alter your design, or b)they ask/pay you to do it

Thanks guys, appreciate the replies. Yes scanning is always a possibility and inevitable. I wouldn’t give out the stl only the form file if they have access to a printer. Is it possible that future versions of preform will enable you to export the stl? Therefore the file contained is no longer locked to it? That’s my only concern.

I doubt Formlabs has any plans in that direction. What would be the point? To enable Preform-supported models to be printed on other SLA printers? You can bet that’s not going to be a priority. :slight_smile: