We spend a lot of time thinking about designs and the technology to print those designs, but what about the notion of publishing designs? Once a model is produced, what happens to that model? Is it kept in a folder somewhere? Is it published on the Internet? What happens to that model once it is published? Lacking any security mechanisms, it might become essentially public domain. Are there solutions?
Cadalyst recently took a very hard look at this issue, and actually tested products from seven 3D CAD vendors, including SpinFire Professional, Adobe Acrobat 3D, Myriad, XVL Studio Pro, Publisher3D Professional, Deep Exploration 5 CAD Edition and eDrawings 2007 Professional. Their conclusion: there are indeed tools that can protect the intellectual property of your 3D models. No standards yet for doing so, but it can be done.