The world’s first working printed 3D weapon was developed in 2013 by Cody Wilson, a crypto-anarchist and the founder of Defense distributed. Files under the 3D-printer for this disposable gun were the first samples that got into the world wide web. They have caused unprecedented controversy that still affect the 3D printing community.
After the files were uploaded more than 100 thousand times in two days, the government forced Defense distributed remove the model from access. A defense weapon released by Defense Distributed was confiscated by the police.
This demand triggered a long legal battle between techno-anarchists and the government.
Recent organization study RAND Corporation, showed a striking increase in the number of models of 3D-weapons. The researchers found that 11 of the 20 items sold on the darknet are files for 3D printing of firearms. So, sample files for creating weapons on a 3D printer cost only $ 12.
Do we need to fear that bad guys will print 3D weapons?
As a result of the trial, an agreement was concluded between the US government and Cody Wilson, along with Defense Distributed, which allowed the organization to re-upload 3D weapons models onto its website.
After that, both manufacturers and legislators around the world turned their attention to 3D weapons. Regardless of intentions, their efforts to resolve the use of three-dimensional printed weapons caused a number of difficulties. Should those who have files and a 3D printer that can print 3D weapons be blamed just like those who actually have a weapon? What is the best way to control the creation and use of printed weapons? And most importantly, should we be wary of weapons printed on 3D printers?
To answer these questions, let us consider in the aggregate the pros and cons.
Reasons why you should be wary of printed weapons.
First, the 3D weapon that has been printed and “surfaced” by now is, in most cases, pistols. And they, as a rule, are much more limited than long-barreled firearms.
Secondly, from CNN before Gizmodo – All major media focused on printed 3D guns more than any other innovative technology at the time of its appearance. But where did such concerns come from?
Perhaps the appearance of such fear was promoted not by the functionality of 3D printers, but by the simplicity of creating a weapon without the need for any qualifications. In many countries of the world there are strict laws on the control over the creation, distribution and use of weapons. Simply put, those who are allowed to own firearms should at least register and also register the weapon itself. Ordinary citizens fear that with the help of printed products, people with an unstable psyche or criminals will be able to produce firearms at home and commit crimes with it. Such weapons will not be registered, so it is difficult to track the owner.
Although the current state of custom 3D printing does not necessarily allow for the production of normally working firearms at home, things can change as technology improves. For example, as 3D printers for printing metal products become more accessible and common, the potential for creating more serious weapons may increase.
Another cause for fear is that 3D printing can lead to the creation of cheap firearms for criminals. But printing metal weapons will cost thousands of dollars, and criminals have the opportunity to get weapons much cheaper.
The reasons why you can not worry about the weapon that creates a 3D printer
Easily make plastic firearms with the appropriate 3D files and using a desktop 3D printer. But this homemade weapon is far from reliable when it comes to functionality. In fact, police tests proved that the printed gun could threaten the shooter more than everyone else.
Firearms made by 3D printing technology from the material ABS, may fall apart or even explode in the hands of the user when firing. From a softer PLA, parts are likely to begin to bend or deform from heat when the powder burns.
The reality is that neither ABS nor PLA are suitable for the manufacture of firearms. However, most printed 3D weapons are made using ABS, so most likely the very first shot will be unsuccessful. When firing a bullet creates too much pressure to withstand it to withstand the material.
Some enthusiasts have created hybrid models of printed weapons, consisting of traditional metal components and thermoplastics. In theory, this firearm should offer much better functionality than ABS based weapons. But again, the creation of hybrid 3D-weapons is unproductive, because it requires even more costs.
Finally, metal 3D printing can be used to create a fully functional firearm. No one denies this. But this type of printing is extremely expensive. Therefore, it makes no sense for a criminal to use a metal 3D printer instead of finding a cheaper and more cautious way of acquiring weapons on the black market.
The need for metal parts or a metal seal also eliminates the fear that a printed weapon may slip through the metal detector. After all, for the manufacture of firearms, even from plastic, at least a metal pin is required. 3D weapons, which consist mainly of thermoplastic, are extremely inefficient and, therefore, do not stand so afraid of the possibility of their mass printing.
To summarize: what you need to know about the printed 3D-weapon?
In fact, there is no reason to fear a printed weapon more than a traditional one. In fact, in the United States, factory firearms are easier to obtain and much more deadly. In the United States, about 300 million firearms are distributed, which makes a potential epidemic of 3-D weapon printing rather pointless.
However, the level of threat that a 3D weapon can carry is much higher in places with strict control over the circulation of weapons. For example, in Australia.
Now the cost of models is small, but such files can be sold again and again. If the day comes when metal 3D printers become more accessible, perhaps this minor problem can begin to grow.
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Pistol through 3D printer: What you need to know about the printed 3D weapon?