There has been a lot of media hype lately about the potential for a 3D printed gun. Here at 3D-Printers.com.au we have received several calls from main stream media asking us if it is really possible so I thought I would shed some light on the topic and give my views on possibility of 3D Printed warfare.
As far as I can tell the media attention first started when a Thingiverse use by the name HaveBlue uploaded a part for an AR-15 (0.22 caliber) pistol which he 3D printed, bolted it to the rest of the pistol and successfully fired a few rounds.
Following on from this Cody Wilson founded an organisation by the name of Defense Distributed and launched a crowd funding project to raise enough money to help design a 3d Printable gun which could be printed on a consumer grade 3D printer.
So lets get a few things straight. Firstly a 3D Printer is a tool used to make parts. It is no different to a CNC mill, a lathe or even a hammer and chisel. As HaveBlue states on his blog, people have been CNC machining their own guns for years and there is decent online community exchanging and sharing their own personal gun designs. Secondly, unless you have a spare million dollars, you’ll be limited to printing in plastic or photopolymers which do not have the strength or ability to handle the high temperatures required to fire a bullet. And thirdly, even if you have been able to manufacture your own gun you still need bullets!
The main thing that has changed in the last three years is that 3D Printing technology has become more accessible to the average Joe mainly through low cost FDM style machines (reprap etc) and 3D printing services such as Shapeways and i.materialise. So if you give someone a file for a 3D Printed gun, it is quiet easy for someone to have it 3D printed or 3D print it themselves on their desktop 3D printer.
The scarey reality is that you could drop in to you local Home Depot or Bunnings store and purchase parts to build a bomb that would way more dangerous and destructive than a 3D printed gun. And for that you don’t need a 3D printer, a digital file for a gun or even bullets. So if you worried about a 3d printed gun then that should scare the pants off you!
If you remember the “terrorist hand book” that was floating around the web some time ago, well I think this is about as dangerous as that was.
Until then, lets try and focus on all the good and positive things that we can make with 3D printers….