Skip to comments.Disruptions: With a 3-D Printer, Building a Gun With the Push of a Button
Posted on 10/09/2012 7:07:02 AM PDT by marktwain
It has long been possible to make a gun at home. But what happens when it no longer takes knowledge and skill to build one?
It won't be long before a felon, unable to buy a gun legally, can print one at home. Teenagers could make them in their bedroom while their parents think they are "playing on their computer." I'm talking about a fully functional gun, where the schematic is downloaded free from the Internet and built on a 3-D printer, all with the click of a button.
Hit print, walk away, and a few hours later, you have a firearm. There are no background checks. No age limits. No serial numbers etched on the barrel or sales receipts to track the gun.
It might sound like science fiction, but 3-D printers are quickly becoming a consumer product. These printers, which now cost about $1,000, can print objects by spraying thin layers of plastic, metal or ceramics that are built up into shapes. Long used by industrial companies to make prototypes and parts, 3-D printers are becoming faster and less expensive almost weekly. One manufacturer, MakerBot, has set up a retail store in Manhattan. Chinese companies have started making them, and prices are falling to about $500.
Hobbyists have printed fairly rudimentary objects: prosthetics, iPhone cases, cat statues and missing luggage clasps.
(Excerpt) Read more at cnbc.com ...
I bet that they could encode into the printer something that would stop a design from being printed that even closely resembles a gun.
How do they temper the steel in the receiver so the thing doesn’t blow your hand off the first time you try to shoot it?
And the news media’s lust for hysteria continues...
“Virtual reality” was a big hype for a long time, with ignorant newsies and busybodies and polypragmatons concocting goblins from what little they understood of the subject. Unable to keep up with the hype, the technology practically died.
I’m seeing the same thing here. Having no concept of the physics & mechanics involved, reporters and other meddlers impute their fear of “pushbutton demons” on the latest sutable emerging technology, making it front-page panic until some other hobgoblin can occupy the small minds.
I went down to Staples the other day and they didn’t have any steel paper for my 3D printer. Darn.
Our 3D printer saved us a ton of money while working on prototypes,,multiple engineering iterations get expensive. We used plastics though,,not metal. That’s interesting. Basically you convert just about any type of CAD drawing via the printer software. Our stuff usually took hours to print, and the machine ran very hot. Ours was a medium size, cost about 45k at the time.
Mr. Wilson, who runs a Web site called Defense Distributed.
He calls the gun the Wiki Weapon. In a video explaining the project’s goals, he describes the Wiki Weapon as the world’s first “3-D printable personal defense system.”
“What’s great about the Wiki Weapon is it only needs to be lethal once,” Mr. Wilson says in the video, in a monotone voice.
Sure, and then you could just print the barrel separately from the magazine, receiver, trigger, grip, etc. So they’d have to try to stop you from printing anything that looks like even a part of a gun. Even then, it would be mere weeks before some hacker came up with a way around it.
There are laser based systems that can “print” steel and other metals as well. The technology is out there. Now it’s just a matter of cost.
3D printing is going to have a huge impact in terms of decentralizing manufacturing. It can be the next industrial revolution - a personal one. That is, if it doesn’t get shut down by concerns like the ones in this article.
Utter nonsense. Nothing rivals forged steel. I don’t even care for cast parts. A printed barrel would explode from the first shot. Gee, can I print up bullets as well?
And I bet a twelve year old “prodigy” could disable those limitations in less than a month.
Teenagers and felons can kill people with cars, knives, poison and anvils dropped off of buildings. Guns created from 3D printers in nefarious hands are way down on my list of things to worry about.
“After committing a crime with a printed weapon, a person could simply melt down the plastic and reprint it as something as mundane as a statue of Buddha. And guns made of plastic might not be spotted by metal detectors in airports, courthouses or other government facilities. “
Now this part is just hysteria. People won’t print guns out of plastic for the same reasons they don’t make regular guns out of plastic, despite what Hollywood movies may portray.
How? The quintessential American “gun” is the AR15, which is legally defined (thanks to legislators not knowing what they’re doing) as the “lower receiver” part - a component of odd shape not resembling what most would consider a “gun”. Screw on other parts that also don’t look like one, and suddenly you have one.
There is no innate “signature” to such an object which fulfills the sociopolitical demand you indicate. Should a library of culprits be encoded, akin to the list of forbidden guns in the defunct-for-good-reason “assault weapon ban”, ‘tis not hard to make alterations until something passes muster.
This isn’t like photocopiers which detect & refuse to copy highly standardized images such as money. There is no identifying distinctive standard shape beyond a long hollow tube - and long hollow tubes have many legitimate purposes.
A “fully-functional” paper gun? Are they really that stupid?
Steel ha ha. Think PLASTIC. What you COULD do is use the plastic in a lost wax process and cast bronze parts so that if they fail it will be by splitting rather than shattering. Wouldn't want to make a ma deuce out of plastic.
I think the writers are on strike at the NYT.
Right now the efforts are around the AR15 lower receiver, which is not subject to high pressures - and what they’re making barely even works for that use.
Someday the tempering problem will be solved. It’s just a standard manufacturing problem, which will coincidentally be useful for this application.
This sounds a lot like a hand-wringing article I read when inexpensive color laser printers were on the horizon. It was all about how the use of that technology for counterfeiting would mean the end of paper currency.
The point is that the article spreads around the knowledge that gun control cannot be effective without technology control.
Technology control makes nations poor and unable to compete in the world markets.
So are we upset that people have easy access to a Constitutional Right? Imagine if one had to get a background check every time one posted a blog or even a comment and had to pay for that background check as well?
Throwing in the towel?
You gotta be careful with these guys. They could be simply throwing a challenge to the liberal integentia to “fix” this problem with more regulation. You know, anything from building anti-gun provisions in the printers to ... banning them. Not unlike the way communists used to ban or register typewriters.
No, you’re uninformed.
There’s a new technology emerging called “3d printing” which allows a computer to construct physical objects with plastic (and, just emerging now, metal). We’re talking fully three-dimensional stuff of practically any shape and increasing sizes. “Printing” a plastic toy gun is now trivial; the controversy is over improvements in the material leading eventually to “printing” an actual gun.
Star Trek’s “replicator” technology is approaching.
What you've described is the wet dream of every government bureaucrat in the country. You and I exist for only one reason (in the government mind) to fund their pipe dreams and idiotic ideas.
Yes, I’m sure a felon would never have the connections to buy a hot gun.
So it makes sense that they would go to college to learn how to design a weapon, and work forever to be able to afford one of these printers.
Now that’s a complicated plan. Where’s the step where they make, profit?
“Homemade guns make the idea of gun control as crime control ridiculous.”
It is ridiculous, but as long as we have governments and people that feel government should be everyone’s mommy and daddy, there will be people that insist that government take guns away from individuals.
Mr. Wilson, who runs a Web site called Defense Distributed.
He calls the gun the Wiki Weapon. In a video explaining the projects goals, he describes the Wiki Weapon as the worlds first 3-D printable personal defense system.
Whats great about the Wiki Weapon is it only needs to be lethal once, Mr. Wilson says in the video, in a monotone voice.
C’mon. Think larger. It might be dangerous if you are about to use existing plans for conventional weapons made using standard technology.
Adjust it a little bit to overcome limitations of new technology and you can easily build a pretty safe 22 cal gun.
And if you have some engineering background you can think out a way to make it in larger caliber as well.
Ever hear of a “Zip” gun. Piece of wood, small metal tube(auto antenna), door bolt and rubber bands
I looked up ‘polypragmatons’ on google and your post came up first.
Or one of these, the phaser "AK-47" according to the media...
Nothing like setting it to level 16 to leave behind no evidence.
But anything that makes the antis give up and go away is fine by me.
I have heard of a FLIT gun, works wonders on dirty smelly hippies!
when there are replicator level printers, what does that do to the Chinese ecconomy? will obama blame printers for stealing jobs like he blames the ipad for stealing jobs?
Try firing a bullet by holding it between your teeth ;-)
Teeth are not as strong as the tempered steel of barrels.
A gun could survive several shots.
I would like to see a "printable" plastic capable of withstanding even one shot. Not all plastics are created equal and printable plastics are not the hardest of those types.
Yeah, and it can be plastic [Remember that little myth boys and girls?] so it can go through metal detectors yeah sure.
Michael Guslick, an amateur gunsmith who has written extensively online about the considerable challenges of 3-D printed guns, said people had been experimenting with homemade guns for some time. He said the most notable example was the zip gun, which is made from off-the-shelf plumbing parts. (Not surprisingly, the schematics and instructions can be downloaded online.)
"This is just applying a different technology to something that is already being done," he said. "But making one on a 3-D printer is a lot of work when your local plumbing department is so close by."
So the bottom line is making a barrel or reciever with any accuracy still requires an experienced machinist....and wait, experienced machinists have ALWAYS been able to make guns.
Any thing has a good and evil component.
Credit goes to Lindsey Cooper, daughter of gun guru Jeff Cooper (aka “father of modern handgunning”).
polypragmonocracy = government by busybodies
The author of this article has obviously never had first hand experience using a 3D printer and certainly has no idea how much one costs.
This is a piece of equipment that is costly for a small business; it would be prohibitive for a teenager in his bedroom.
When a part is printed, it is porous. It needs to have metal wicked into it. As for making a gun, that’s a pipedream for an idiot. First off, you could never make the barrel or chamber this way it would blow up. You could make other parts (trigger components, and some parts, but nothing that would experience the stresses needed to launch a bullet.
I agree with the "forged steel" part, but not the "utter nonsense" part.
If you are looking for a long-lasting, family heirloom firearm, then, by all means, buy Glock, S&W, Colt, etc.
If all you want to do is, well, let's just call it "remove a threat," then print a gun.
For proof of the concept, do a search on "45 caliber liberator."
There will always be demand for some improvement beyond what production equipment can produce with ease. “Well, now since THAT is available cheap, I want to spend my extra money on that plus something even more luxurious I’ve decided I can’t live without.”
Usable computer tablets are being produced for $40. We still spend upwards of $1000 on them for a reason.
I have only rudimentary machinist skills. They are not difficult to develop. I have no doubt that I can make functional guns with a little effort.
I have made multishot guns from plumbing supplies (legally) and they functioned just fine. The highest technology that I used was an electric hand drill. You do not need rifling or precision for functionality. Crimes are almost always committed at distances measured in feet, not tens of yards.
Yes, if you want to duplicate a .50 cal machine gun, an experienced machinist would be advisable. To make functional guns suitable for crime, they are not necessary.
Not surprisingly, this NY Times article claims that 40% of guns are now sold through the “gun show loophole.”
Funny the MSM doesn’t have a list of all these weapons as they are used day after day in crimes!
Maybe it slipped their collective mind.
Whenever “one more rule” will solve a problem that is just due to the fallen nature of human beings, you’re drifting into utopianism.
Really, do we need anything more than “thou shall not murder”? No one tried to implement Rock Control after the first murder was committed, because they had enough sense to understand that it’s the criminal, not the object, that is the problem.
A 3D printer would be really cool for people who like miniatures and tabletop wargames. With different colored toners you might not even have to paint them. I could see a hobby shop buying one and charging to print a favorite model.
I'm printing your statement as a poster.
My understanding is that the capacity of 3D printing is increasing rapidly, and the price is coming down.
Still, it seems a fairly simple process to embed easily made high stress metal components in the printing process. It would not take much to embed a 3 inch steel tube and a bolt into the printing process. Add a nail shaped with a file and a couple of standard springs, and your concerns are overcome for a basic .22 pistol.