We have written about the coming revolution in manufacturing as 3-D technology is put to use printing anything under the sun. But 3-D printers are already allowing the printing of objects outlawed: revolvers, rifles and high-capacity clips. This means laws either on the books now or passed in the future will have no teeth; anyone anywhere can easily and secretly build a weapon that could be used for nefarious purposes.
Cody Wilson, the founder of Defense Distributed, launched the Wiki-Weapon Project that already allows anyone to print a gun or gun part if they have a 3D Printer and can use the “Print” button. According to Wilson, liberty and the rights of individuals are under threat from the possibility of gun or ammunition bans. His project allows individuals to exercise what he sees as their legal rights under the US Constitution.
But according to “US Title 18” it is against the law to make undetectable firearms or weapons that are not regulated by “US Title 1”. All weapons manufactured in the US must be registered during manufacture with the proper authorities. Although printing an entire gun capable of shooting bullets is illegal, Wilson has made and fired weapons built on his 3D printer.
Using an old 1990’s era SLA 3D printer, Wilson has demonstrated that the parts he makes are interchangeable with those of a real gun; he simply fits a 3D printed item into a real gun, attaches it, and fires. No need to visit a gun shop anymore as gun parts can be printed with ease.
Wilson gives an example of how difficult or impossible it will be to regulate this type of activity. Recently he designed a large magazine clip capable of holding dozens of rounds of ammunition and after posting his design it was downloaded 50,000 times within 24 hours.
3D Printers: Scan and Print
The technology of 3-D printing now allows anyone to put the item they want to copy into a printer chamber where it is scanned in three dimensions by lasers. After a few minutes a 3-D snapshot is obtained of the object and it can be then be duplicated. To print an entire 3-D gun one would simply take apart all the pieces, scan them, print them and then reassemble.
Early 3D printing involved a laser and a 3D resin with the laser burning away resin to create a shape. Now 3D printers can have 30 different materials held in printer cartridges so that multi material objects can be produced.