Applied DNA Sciences Inc. announced today that the Defense Logistics Agency will subsidize APDN's SigNature DNA marking for defense suppliers who provide designated, high-reliability electronics to the Agency.
This news is extremely significant because it lowers the cost-of-doing-business threshold for DNA marking technology. The announcement explains further:
The text of the DIBBS announcement, which also appeared on DLA's on line Supplier Information Resource Center (SIRC) explains that the Agency will 'reimburse trusted sources who receive awards for the direct costs of the annual DNA marking license that must be obtained from Applied DNA Sciences.'
'Effective immediately, only trusted sources who comply with Deoxyribonucleic Acid marking requirement in DLAD 52.11-9074 are eligible to receive FSC 5962 awards from DLA. There are no exceptions.'
As we have read in numerous previous posts, DNA marking of semiconductors and other materials is a method for combating counterfeiters who, at this point in time, can reverse engineer an OEM's semiconductor down to the wafer level.
The marking mandate comes from the Defense Logistics Agency, which has been plagued with the incursion of counterfeit parts and materials into the supply chain. In some cases, deaths have occurred because counterfeit parts were the root cause of critical systems failures in medical equipment.
Semiconductors are the main types of devices that are meant to be protected with DNA authentication, but other inventory parts, like ball bearings, O-rings, fasteners, and brake shoes have recently been faked as well. In recent news, helicopters and heads-up displays were also built with counterfeit components.
Now, with the potential for major cost offsets via the reimbursement program and the “no exceptions” clause noted in the DLA's statement, we should expect to see widespread adoption and deployments of this particular DNA technology.
DNA marking also has incredible crime-fighting potential, since for some time now, Applied DNA's technology has been marking copper and other key materials to protect against theft.
As an ex-soldier, I appreciate the added degree of safety and security knowing that this method of marking parts and authenticating sources will be an absolute requirement for critical components. It is not just the components that are critical, but the systems in which they are installed. In that sense, any component in a mission-critical system is, by definition, critical, so even the parts that are not “mark worthy” at this time will eventually become marked, as any upstream or downstream failure of an unmarked component may cause a marked component to fail.
Speculatively, I believe that in the near future, we will see not just individual semiconductors marked, but entire subassemblies like power supplies, cooling apparatus, cable harnessing, and a myriad of other higher-level assemblies included in the DNA marking mandates. In fact, mass-marking programs will lead to cost-saving efficiencies due to volume production discounts, efficient processing, and increased management skill proficiencies. I also believe that the cost of marking and authentication will come down as more R&D money is invested to perfect techniques and materials.
Let the counterfeiters come on strong with DNA counterfeiting attempts. They will only help “harden” the DNA marking market by stimulating anti-counterfeiting research and investment.
Eventually, I believe DNA marking will be almost as common as paper labels, RFID, or standard ink printing. Authentication techniques and software tools will fit in handheld devices connected to the cloud. This means that the practice of marking goods with DNA is headed for a very soft landing, and ubiquitous adoption across many industry sectors.