We've already seen, and in some cases theorized, the kind of legal issues 3D printing weapons and copyrighted content can create. For example, the 3D-printed gun dubbed the Liberator was downloaded more than 100,000 times in its file form before the US State Department yanked it from the internet last spring. Matthew Plummer-Fernandez, a technologist for Goldsmith College's Interaction Research Studio at the University of London, was inspired to create a program that would allow people to distribute contentious files after a company refused to print his three-dimensional take on Mickey Mouse and Thingiverse decided to ban weapons files. Dubbed Disarming Corruptor, the software encrypts .stl files bound for 3D printing in such a way that the items within no longer resemble their intended form. By running files through the app, folks will be able to distribute their designs under some amount of secrecy, and give recipients a code to restore the object to its original shape.
At this stage, Disarming Corruptor only supports 101 possible keys, so its encryption offers only a veneer of protection at best.
"It's still quite entry level encryption. But if there is going to be an arms race between hacktivists sharing files and people trying to control them, it's important to make that first move," Plummer-Fernandez told Forbes. "I wanted to show that if these things are going to be monitored, we as a community have the technology to circumvent that." If you're bent on disguising blueprints of your own, you can download the program for Mac at the source link. Linux and Windows versions are on their way as well, but they aren't done quite yet. Head past the break to catch a video of the software in action.
Update: Plummer-Fernandez reached out and let us know that the original report was incorrect when it comes to the possible number of encryption keys. Instead of supporting just 101 combinations, it supports "seven sets of 100, giving it an encryption on 100^7, or 10^14, i.e trillions of possible keys."