When I first heard two years ago about this 3-D printing technology emerging, I immediately thought about its application towards firearms manufacture. The initial news reports I read were the 3-D printers were programmed to make tools out of plastic, a not very durable medium. Plastic things tend to break, so I was wondering when someone would make a printer that would use metal as its foundation.
And I knew that once a 3-D printer was developed that could use metal as its material, naturally, the first thing people with nefarious minds want to make are not wrenches–the Chinese can make those very cheaply with traditional casting means–but good old firearms. Bang, bang, goes the thrill.
I have a book written back in the 1950s by the Swiss Defense Ministry about how to construct a crude but workable submachine gun. The book has drawings, manufacturing templates, and directions. A truly interesting collection of information.
But in order to make this clandestine firearm, the user would have to know about metallurgy, steel manufacturing, and a host of other technical skills that take time to acquire.
Enter the computer, which does not need time to do its chores, but rather instructions. And some clever person out there has finally come up with a Website, a funding source, and instructions on making crude firearms via software. They’ve created a really cheap looking pistol and an AR-15 lower receiver. Neither one of them looks very safe to fire or to regularly use, but that is a production quality control problem and one easily solved. Heck, they’ve done the hard work–carving a receiver out of some sustainable material.
Here is the 2 Oct 12 NBC News story about it. The Defense Distributed group ran into difficulty when the printer manufacturer caught wind of their project and refused to let the Web-based organization use their equipment. And I can understand why, too.
The Chinese will solve that problem very quickly. They are experts in creating copies of high-tech machines and selling them to anyone with the right case. True capitalist enterpreneurs, those ChiComs…shame we Americans who invented the modern day concept of unencumbered capitalism are stopped from excersizing our natural talents to exploit it for personal gain.
I am waiting for the day when a legitimate company begins making legal replicas of historic machine guns, once those inane U.S. NFA laws are rescinded and repealed. But I find it amazing that the technology to make such interesting devices has already arrived, and is now in use by Anonymous-like dot-com’ers who don’t care about such hinderances.