Exchange and reuse of three-dimensional (3D) product models are hampered by the absence of trust in product-lifecycle data quality. The root cause of the missing trust is years of “silo” functions (e.g., engineering, manufacturing, and quality assurance) using independent and disconnected processes. Those disconnected processes result in data exchanges that do not contain all of the required information for each downstream lifecycle process, which inhibits the reuse of product data and results in duplicate data. The X.509 standard, maintained by the Telecommunication Standardization Sector of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU-T), was first issued in 1988. Although originally intended as the authentication framework for the X.500 series for electronic directory services, the X.509 framework is used in a wide range of implementations outside the originally intended paradigm. These implementations range from encrypting websites to software-code signing, yet X.509 certificate use has not widely penetrated engineering and product realms. Our approach is not trying to provide security mechanisms, but equally as important, our method aims to provide insight into what is happening with product data to support trusting the data. This paper provides a review of the use of X.509 certificates and proposes a solution for embedding X.509 digital certificates in 3D models for authentication, authorization, and traceability of product data. This paper also describes an application within the aerospace domain. Finally, the paper draws conclusions and provides recommendations for further research into using X.509 certificates in product lifecycle management (PLM) workflows to enable a product lifecycle of trust.

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