MakerBot Says No to 3D Printed Guns
In September, we covered the Wiki Weapon, a 3D printed gun. While it seemed like a relative innocent novelty, the stakes have changed this month, when a terrible tragedy struck Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, CT.
In response, MakerBot is enforcing policies around weapon design, as Forbes reports:
In the wake of one of worst shooting incidents in American history, the 3D-printing firm Makerbot has deleted a collection of blueprints for gun components from Thingiverse, its popular user-generated content website that hosts 3D-printable files. Though Thingiverse has long banned designs for weapons and their components in its terms of service, it rarely enforced the rule until the last few days, when the company’s lawyer sent notices to users that their software models for gun parts were being purged from the site.
Makerbot, for its part, included no mention of the Newtown shootings in a statement sent to me about the gun takedowns. “MakerBot’s focus is to empower the creative process and make things for good,” writes Makerbot spokesperson Jenifer Howard. “Thingiverse has been going through an evolution recently and has had numerous changes and updates. Reviewing some of the content that violates Thingiverse’s Terms of Service is part of this process.”
In the past, Makerbot chief executive and founder Bre Pettis has remained ambivalent about guns on Thingiverse, which has become the world’s most popular sharing platform for 3D-printing files. When I asked him about the issue last month, Pettis pointed to the terms of service ban on weapons, but added that the site goes largely unpoliced. He was more explicit in a blog post last year: “The cat is out of the bag,” Pettis wrote. “And that cat can be armed with guns made with printed parts.”
That freewheeling outlook contrasted with other 3D printing services like Shapeways, which bans the uploading of even gun-like toys more than 10 centimeters in length.
Good for MakerBot to make this decision. But it looks like it won’t stop Cody Wilson from attempting to advance his useless agenda.
In response to Makerbot’s crackdown, Defense Distributed founder Cody Wilson wrote in an email, saying that the group plans to create its own site for hosting “fugitive” 3D printable gun files “in the next few hours.”
Neither Wilson believes that neither Makerbot’s purge of gun parts nor the outcry over the Newtown shooting has hampered Defense Distributed’s initiative. “The Internet routes around censorship,” he writes. “The project becomes more vital.”