Can’t Buy a Gun? Soon You Can Print One

Alexander Reed Kelly writes at Truthdig:

A new dimension is emerging in the battle between gun enthusiasts and their less-thrilled opponents. A 3-D printer, which is exactly what it sounds like, has been used to make parts for a firearm. The composite gun works, and the plans are available freely online.

Smithsonian reports that a person with the username HaveBlue posted pictures of the parts he or she printed on a forum for gun aficionados. “It’s had over 200 rounds of .22 through it so far and runs great! To the best of my knowledge, this is the world’s first 3D printed firearm to actually be tested,” HaveBlue wrote. He or she was proud to have survived the testing, saying: “No, it did not blow up into a bazillion tiny plastic shards and maim me for life – I am sorry to have disappointed those of you who foretold doom and gloom.”

Stratsys, the company that manufactures the printer that was used to make the gun is anxious over the development. It sent a cease-and-desist letter to a group called “Defense Distributed,” which is so excited about the prospect of do-it-yourself gun manufacture that it’s raising money to launch a website called the “Wiki Weapon Project,” where anyone who wants to make a gun could presumably find the necessary plans. The effort attracted favorable attention from investors before being shut down by IndiGogo, a site that hosts crowd-sourced fundraising.

Whether or not it is legal to print guns is unclear at the moment. As Wired’s Danger Room reports:

“The laws were written assuming people could make their own guns … the law still does regulate and restrict that,” Daniel Vice, senior attorney at the Washington-based Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, tells Danger Room. Guslick likely didn’t violate any laws surrounding the manufacturing of the gun without a license, as it’s only for personal use. If he attempted to sell the pistol, or opened up a factory producing the weapons, he’d need authorization from the government.

There seems to be no reason why a functional, fully printed gun cannot be made. In any event, it will soon fall to our gridlocked and rightward-drifting Congress to write laws governing the manufacture and use of printed weapons.

42 Comments on "Can’t Buy a Gun? Soon You Can Print One"

  1. Ted Heistman | Oct 7, 2012 at 4:14 pm |

    There are lots of other things you can make too. I am wondering why only the guns get covered. I think 3-d printers are the coolest thing I can imagine. But it is a very potentially “disruptive technology” that could make people very self sufficient and not dependent on corporations for everything.  

    • Anarchy Pony | Oct 7, 2012 at 4:46 pm |

      Except for 3d printers. And feed stock. 

      • alizardx | Oct 7, 2012 at 8:18 pm |

        Look into the Filabot project – the goal is to allow users to turn recycled plastic into filament one can refill 3D printer cartridges with. And there are lots of Open Source projects that allow people to build their own printers with the dependencies being essentially the things anybody who wants to build technology projects, e.g. PCB fabs, hardware store things like nuts and bolts, electronic components… 

      • alizardx | Oct 7, 2012 at 8:18 pm |

        Look into the Filabot project – the goal is to allow users to turn recycled plastic into filament one can refill 3D printer cartridges with. And there are lots of Open Source projects that allow people to build their own printers with the dependencies being essentially the things anybody who wants to build technology projects, e.g. PCB fabs, hardware store things like nuts and bolts, electronic components… 

        • Anarchy Pony | Oct 7, 2012 at 9:13 pm |

          The real trick will be to make a printer that could build parts to make another printer.

        • Anarchy Pony | Oct 7, 2012 at 9:13 pm |

          The real trick will be to make a printer that could build parts to make another printer.

          • Ted Heistman | Oct 7, 2012 at 10:34 pm |

             that was actually one of the original goals of the fab lab.

            Google “open ecology” you might be into that shit.

          • That’s a major goal of the Open Source 3D printer development community.

          • Anarchy Pony | Oct 7, 2012 at 11:39 pm |

            Probably should have printers/fabricators that are designed to work with specific materials, one that works with metal, and plastic, perhaps eventually capable of crafting electronic components, etc. They could craft components in tandem that could easily be assembled into a completed product.

          • Anarchy Pony | Oct 7, 2012 at 11:39 pm |

            Probably should have printers/fabricators that are designed to work with specific materials, one that works with metal, and plastic, perhaps eventually capable of crafting electronic components, etc. They could craft components in tandem that could easily be assembled into a completed product.

    • emperorreagan | Oct 8, 2012 at 2:59 pm |

      The primary way 3-D technology is likely to be disruptive is by displacing jobs in the near future.  Think auto parts – you no longer need a skilled machinist to make some part for your car – you just call the local auto-parts super store and they print one out for you.  You can pick it up Monday at 6.  There’s a skilled job with a decent pay check that just disappeared from the economy, never to return.   

      I certainly don’t see 3-D printer technology making anyone any more self-sufficient.  People are going to start printing and assembling their own garbage Bed, Bath, and Beyond gadgets instead of paying for them?  On 3-D printers that they need to maintain?  I doubt it.  And even if they do, who cares?  Nobody needs a slap-chop anyway.  

      Lack of technology isn’t currently standing in anyone’s way of being more self-sufficient.  

    • emperorreagan | Oct 8, 2012 at 2:59 pm |

      The primary way 3-D technology is likely to be disruptive is by displacing jobs in the near future.  Think auto parts – you no longer need a skilled machinist to make some part for your car – you just call the local auto-parts super store and they print one out for you.  You can pick it up Monday at 6.  There’s a skilled job with a decent pay check that just disappeared from the economy, never to return.   

      I certainly don’t see 3-D printer technology making anyone any more self-sufficient.  People are going to start printing and assembling their own garbage Bed, Bath, and Beyond gadgets instead of paying for them?  On 3-D printers that they need to maintain?  I doubt it.  And even if they do, who cares?  Nobody needs a slap-chop anyway.  

      Lack of technology isn’t currently standing in anyone’s way of being more self-sufficient.  

  2. Ted Heistman | Oct 7, 2012 at 4:15 pm |

    In other words regulating 3D printers is bullshit. 

    •  This is so true. By law, we can manufacture any weapons for personal use as long as it follows a handful of guidelines (not full auto, some things for rifles, S/N and place of origin on receiver ect). Why does 3D printing change that? Even if the tech was available right now to print all the metal components of a firearm, why should it be restricted when I can go right now to the local gun store and buy a AR-15 rifle and have the same thing in the end?

      Def sounds like big business is scared of a little 3d printing.

    •  This is so true. By law, we can manufacture any weapons for personal use as long as it follows a handful of guidelines (not full auto, some things for rifles, S/N and place of origin on receiver ect). Why does 3D printing change that? Even if the tech was available right now to print all the metal components of a firearm, why should it be restricted when I can go right now to the local gun store and buy a AR-15 rifle and have the same thing in the end?

      Def sounds like big business is scared of a little 3d printing.

  3. alizardx | Oct 7, 2012 at 4:46 pm |

    There’s a lot less to this than meets the eye. It’s going to be quite some time (over 10 years) before one finds 3D printers capable of printing metal available at consumer prices. And THAT is what it takes to make a gun barrel. No gun barrel, no gun. Only way for consumer to get access to metal printers would be via lease or service bureau. 

    Why is there so much media-driven hype about this? It’s almost as if there are financial interests that don’t want 3D printing to become an important part of the economy.

  4. Matt Staggs | Oct 7, 2012 at 4:32 pm |

    I think you manufacture a rudimentary but working firearm out of easily available materials, printer or not. http://www.thefirearmblog.com/blog/2012/06/15/artsy-zip-guns/

  5. Matt Staggs | Oct 7, 2012 at 4:32 pm |

    I think you manufacture a rudimentary but working firearm out of easily available materials, printer or not. http://www.thefirearmblog.com/blog/2012/06/15/artsy-zip-guns/

  6. I wouldn’t worry about 3d printed firearms. Guns are cheaper on the street and if you’re making enough for a war there are several markets for that as well. Even a nuke is much easier to obtain than you might think.

    http://m.youtube.com/#/watch?v=0c4f4NJSB_4&desktop_uri=%2Fwatch%3Fv%3D0c4f4NJSB_4

    We need to be careful about knee jerk reactions to restrict the publics ability to do he same thing to the real world that the Internet did for the cyber one. 3d printers allow for all those great ideas from global knowledge sharing to be created, tested, and perfected.

  7. I wouldn’t worry about 3d printed firearms. Guns are cheaper on the street and if you’re making enough for a war there are several markets for that as well. Even a nuke is much easier to obtain than you might think.

    http://m.youtube.com/#/watch?v=0c4f4NJSB_4&desktop_uri=%2Fwatch%3Fv%3D0c4f4NJSB_4

    We need to be careful about knee jerk reactions to restrict the publics ability to do he same thing to the real world that the Internet did for the cyber one. 3d printers allow for all those great ideas from global knowledge sharing to be created, tested, and perfected.

  8. Ted Heistman | Oct 7, 2012 at 5:41 pm |

    This first guy I heard cover this story was a government spook with a blog

  9. Ted Heistman | Oct 7, 2012 at 5:41 pm |

    This first guy I heard cover this story was a government spook with a blog

  10. this will have hardly any impact in the US
    where guns flow like water
    but it can have a serious effect in other countries
    most of which have strict gun control laws

  11. this will have hardly any impact in the US
    where guns flow like water
    but it can have a serious effect in other countries
    most of which have strict gun control laws

    • alizardx | Oct 7, 2012 at 9:56 pm |

      No, it can’t. Metal printers capable of gun production including the barrel and chamber are out of the price range of any but fairly large corporations and are going to stay that way for… I’d guess 20 years. As for the rest of the gun, anyone with some machine shop tools can do that, and that’s been true for a very long time.

    • alizardx | Oct 7, 2012 at 9:56 pm |

      No, it can’t. Metal printers capable of gun production including the barrel and chamber are out of the price range of any but fairly large corporations and are going to stay that way for… I’d guess 20 years. As for the rest of the gun, anyone with some machine shop tools can do that, and that’s been true for a very long time.

      • I was thinking of a Glock plastic gun thingy, not metal.
        But it’s the bullets that kill, and controlling ammunition
        is more important than controlling guns.
        When they get a printable bullets & printable gun powder
        we’re all in trouble.

      • I was thinking of a Glock plastic gun thingy, not metal.
        But it’s the bullets that kill, and controlling ammunition
        is more important than controlling guns.
        When they get a printable bullets & printable gun powder
        we’re all in trouble.

        • Glocks use metal barrels just like any other gun. Smokeless powder is simple chemistry. Lots of places to get brass and lead. 

          • but it’s not a conventional barrell
            and doesn’t need to be printed
            in fact you can even buy them
            and yeah, ammo can be self manufactured too

            on the other hand
            none of this will ever get into the hands of the herd
            (American Idol Dream Time will distract them)
            and on the whole
            weapons generally backfire
            living by the sword has it’s downside

          • Anarchy Pony | Oct 8, 2012 at 12:01 am |

            When people just had swords, they didn’t have to worry about snipers with magnum rounds and laser sights shooting them in the head from a quarter mile away.

          • back when they had swords
            they took in as much information in a lifetime
            as we do in a day
            they didn’t worry about much
            but a good archer could take you from a 1/4 mile away

          • back when they had swords
            they took in as much information in a lifetime
            as we do in a day
            they didn’t worry about much
            but a good archer could take you from a 1/4 mile away

  12. I wouldn’t worry about 3d guns. They are much cheaper in the street and the printers don’t use metal. However I would like to see a nano graphene 3d printer. Then you could actually build anything.

  13. I wouldn’t worry about 3d guns. They are much cheaper in the street and the printers don’t use metal. However I would like to see a nano graphene 3d printer. Then you could actually build anything.

  14. Apathesis | Oct 8, 2012 at 9:04 pm |

    More fear and loathing from the anti-gun crowd.

  15. Apathesis | Oct 8, 2012 at 9:04 pm |

    More fear and loathing from the anti-gun crowd.

Comments are closed.