Tag Archives: guns
3D printing has hype and controversy, but what about adoption?
This is a guest post by UK-based Laser Lines Ltd, whose bio is at the end of the article.
Earlier this year it was announced that Maplin Electronics would be the first UK retailer to stock a home 3D printer. With all the hype and controversy surrounding this technology, it’s left many wondering if 3D printers will be the next big gadget to make their way into every home.
3D printing is the process of printing layers of material, usually plastic, on-top of one another to build up a 3D object. The Velleman K8200, which retails at £700, allows customers to 3D print any object they want from the comfort of their home, from a chess piece to mobile phone case. The plastics come in red, black, white, orange, green, yellow and pink, costing £30 for 1kg of the resin. Certainly an interesting addition to any home office but isn’t this a rather expensive way of reproducing items that would ordinarily cost just a few pounds?
The idea of everyday consumers being able to access 3D printers has already caused controversy in the US following the announcement of printable handgun blueprints online. The handgun, which would have been made from plastic if successfully produced in this way, could have gone undetected by standard security scanner.
Another widespread concern about 3D printers in the home is the likelihood of copyright infringement through the reproduction of products. Users would potentially be able to produce a 3D scan of a product and then using this scan blueprint re-create the object precisely at home.
Outside of the home however, 3D printing technology has been having far greater success. Manufacturers are able to benefit from quick prototype production, enabling sketched concepts to be swiftly tried and tested. The aerospace industry has already started producing fully functional parts via 3D print technology too, with NASA known for their frequent use of the procedure to make lightweight engine and shuttle parts. 3D printing has the potential to completely transform production supply chains, particularly when it comes to producing small parts that would have usually been shipped from one manufacturer to another.
There are incredible medical implications of this printing process too. Professionals believe that, ultimately, 3D printers could be produced to print living materials in place of plastics. Layering cells alongside a medical scaffolding substance called hydrogel, it should be possible to print the basis of human organs such as a liver or kidney, before leaving them to grown into the fully formed structure. Soon it will also be possible to print sophisticated human tissue specifically for pharmaceutical testing – which means risk free clinical testing and trials (though again a hugely controversial idea).
In conclusion, perhaps 3D printers will see their way into the homes of those who can afford such a novelty, but for the time being the real advantages will be found in manufacturing on professional scale machines. Even then 3D printing has a long way to go before it’s embraced by everyone.
About the author: This article is written by UK-based Laser Lines Ltd, a bespoke 3D printing company that have been providing 3D printing solutions for over 20 years. Visit their website to browse through their collection.
3D Printed Guns are Newsworthy but Are They Viable?
This is a guest post by Brian Prowse, whose bio is at the end of the article.
In a recent article online, Jeremy A. Kaplan wrote the following for Fox News, “While early models based on firearms designer Cody Wilson’s plans backfired or fired only once before breaking, the latest test appears to prove that homemade plastic guns are viable — and that the Internet may have dramatically changed how we look at regulating the trade in arms.”
Mr. Kaplan was writing about the recent controversial subculture of 3D printed firearms, and Cody Wilson, founder of a non-profit called Defense Distributed, is a central figure in that 3D printed gun controversy. Wilson’s Defense Distributed is a hyper-libertarian, “crypto-anarchist” organization committed to the distribution of open source firearm and firearm-mechanism plans, mainly plans that allow for the 3D printing of guns.
Like any other controversy, the 3D printed firearms debate has gone through periods of waxing and waning. Its water-cooler buzz peaked shortly after Cody Wilson produced public plans for the lower receiver of an AR-15 assault rifle- one of the AR-15’s most important and more-regulated segments- and for higher-capacity magazines. Wilson did so in response to the national consideration of assault rifle (and magazine capacity) bans or restrictions which followed the Sandy Hook school shooting.
That controversy waned, however, when virtually every one of the 3D printed weapons either exploded or failed during or after the first shot. In fact, a video (below) by Defense Distributed shows Wilson firing his ostentatiously-named Liberator once and turning dramatically toward the camera as likewise dramatic music swells. However, he only fired the Liberator once because small parts inside the printed pistol had been destroyed by the shot.
The crux of the Fox News story involved a Canadian man, identified only as “Matthew”, who purportedly fired fourteen .22 bullets through the 3D printed rifle he named “The Grizzly 2.0”. So, if the video (below) of Matthew firing The Grizzly 2.0 fourteen times is legitimate, and there’s no reason to believe it isn’t, has that “dramatically changed” the nature of the American arms trade?
As compelling as the story is that anyone can make guns at home, the 3D printed gun phenomenon won’t dramatically change the greater gun dynamic, for the moment at least.
For starters, it’s not so clear that the Grizzly 2.0 test does prove that plastic guns are “viable”.
It is no mean feat for most people to find a 3D printer and download the Defense Distributed gun design, and moreover, 3D printing the gun components is both time consuming and costly. With those components, building the gun presents its own challenges.
Keep in mind that it’s been months since 3D firearm plans were produced and released to the public. Since then, virtually all of the guns produced, even by those who specialize in their production, have been fragile or faulty enough that a rifle firing 14 shots of the lowest commonly available bullet-caliber has made news.
That’s not necessarily the fault of the 3D printers nor the 3D printer user. The fact is that fortified metal alloys is simply better suited for the stress of exploding bullets than plastic is. Gunsmiths, both licensed and illicit, have known this for years. That’s why the illicit gunsmiths who have produced hand-made guns, often called “zip guns”, virtually always did so with sturdier materials than plastic.
I mention the production of zip guns because there is absolutely nothing new or revolutionary about people building their own firearms. In fact, it’s still a thriving underground industry. So as it stands, the 3D printed gun and gun-part printing subculture will likely have little effect on the national firearm landscape.
With the easy access most Americans have to guns, the money, trouble and time dedicated to the production of a 3D printed firearm could be spent on simply buying a gun that’s tremendously more reliable.
About the author: Brian Prowse is a writer and self-proclaimed tech geek. When he’s not blogging for tech sites like 247inktoner.com, tinkering around with graphic design or traveling, Brian enjoys selflessly sacrificing his time to play with the coolest new gadgets on the market.
- US Government Takes Down 3D Printed Gun Plans
- Cody Wilson of Defense Distributed Launches 3D Printed Gun
- Defense Distributed Attains License to Create 3D Printed Guns
- Chris Anderson Clears the Air: 3D Printing Won’t Work for Making Guns
- NPR Discusses 3D Printed Guns on Morning Edition
- National Gun Control Debate Threatens 3D Printing With Regulation
- MakerBot Says No to 3D Printed Guns
- 3D Printing Gun Debate Heats Up Again: Wiki Weapon and ATF
- Here Comes Controversy: Hobbyists 3D Print Automatic Weapons
3D Printing News
A roundup of the top 3D printing news from May 13 to May 18:
Monday, May 13
- 3D Printing Materials: From Plastic to Metal to Wood and Beyond
- Even Mega’s Kim Dotcom Doesn’t Want 3D Printed Guns
Wednesday, May 15
Thursday, May 16
Friday, May 17
- Michigan Tech Launches 3D Printers for Peace Contest
- Startup Azavy Launches AirBnB Marketplace for 3D Printing
Saturday, May 18
- Michael Ian Black Tweets About 3D Printing – Our Response
- Tinkercad Acquired by Autodesk: Free 3D Design Software Lives On!
Photo by lizzk used under Creative Commons license.
3D Printers for Peace
Below are the details of the contest and how to enter.
3D printing is changing the world. Unfortunately, the only thing many people know about 3D printing is that it can be used to make guns. We want to celebrate designs that will make lives better, not snuff them out.
What is the Printers for Peace Contest?
We are challenging the 3D printing community to design things that advance the cause of peace. This is an open-ended contest, but if you’d like some ideas, ask yourself what Mother Theresa, Martin Luther King, or Ghandi would make if they’d had access to 3D printing.
- low-cost medical devices
- tools to help pull people out of poverty
- designs that can reduce racial conflict
- objects to improve energy efficiency or renewable energy sources to reduce wars over oil
- tools that would reduce military conflict and spending while making us all safer and more secure
- things that boost sustainable economic development (e.g. designs for appropriate technology in the developing world to reduce scarcity)
Fully assembled, open-source Type A Machines Series 1 3D Printer
The Series 1 recently won best in class in the Make: Ultimate Guide to 3-D Printing. It has a 9-by-9-by-9-inch build volume, prints at 90mm/sec in PLA, ABS and PVA with 0.1mm resolution.
Michigan Tech’s MOST version of the RepRap Prusa Mendel open-source 3D printer kit
The RepRap can be built in a weekend. It has a 7.8–by-7.8-by-6.8-inch build volume on a heated bed, prints comfortably at 80 mm/sec ABS, 45 mm/sec PLA, HDPE and PVA with 0.1 mm resolution.
Enter the Contest
Go to the Michigan Tech website to enter the contest.
Image by snapies_gi used under Creative Commons license.
Mega Deletes 3D Printing Gun Plans
Kim Dotcom, the Internet entrepreneur and convicted cyber-criminal behind Megaupload and now Mega does not want to support 3D printed guns.
While reports came out that the US Government has removed the files from DEFCAD and whether international arms control laws may have been broken, Kim Dotcom instructed his company to delete the uploaded plans for the “Liberator”, Cody Wilson’s 3D printed gun.
Via Newstalk ZB.
Kim Dotcom photo by sam_churchill used under Creative Commons license.