Your Cargo Can be Stolen Using 3D Printing Technology

2-minute read

For some time we have been looking to identify the potential long-term impact of 3D printing on the movement of goods in the supply chain but now manufacturers and transport providers are being warned of how the criminal fraternity are using the technology to help steal goods from containers.

Cargo thieves have reportedly started to use 3D printers to make fake security container seals to hide the fact a shipment’s security has been compromised.

According to a media report published on the cloned seals are so advanced they even match the identification numbers on the official seal.

The report highlights a shipment in which the original manufacturer and transport company seals placed on a shipment appeared to still be intact on arrival to the customer.

However, once the seals were removed and the container was opened, most of the cargo was missing.

Upon further investigation, the seals on the container were found to be counterfeits. According to one source some 3D printers can make the fake seals in just 10 minutes.

Information provided by the Pharmaceutical Cargo Security Coalition included images of the fake seals which enabled cargo thieves to steal the bulk of the shipment.

The photos in figures 1 and 2 show the correct seals applied by the shipper and transport company. Figure 3 shows the fake seals produced by a 3D printer.

Manufacturers and transport operators are now being offered the following advice:


  • Closely inspect all cut seals for appropriate hardened inner steel core.
  • Immediately report any suspicious findings.


  • Do not discard cut seals which would provide a template reproducing copies of seals.
    Collect and secure all cut seals for proper disposal such as verified destruction of original seals.
  • Have you been a victim of such a crime? If you have information or advice to share, please contact TAPA EMEA at [email protected]

Source: NZ Shipping Gazette

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