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Monday, April 29, 2013

3D-printed weapons producer prepares to print world’s first complete working handgun


Last week University of Texas law student Cody Wilson told the Inside 3D Printing Conference in New York that within the next few weeks he will successfully produce a working handgun with 3D printing technology.  The weapon is expected to be capable of firing at least a few shots before breaking or melting and will be printed in 12 parts using ABS+, a sturdy, conventional 3D-printed thermoplastic.  In addition to its 3D-printed components, the gun will also require one small metal firing pin and conventional ammunition.

Mr. Wilson is founder and director of Defense Distributed (DefDist), a controversial non-profit he established last year to explore the possibility of manufacturing weapons with 3D printers.   Mr. Wilson calls his mission the "Wiki Weapon Project". In 2012, DefDist 3D-printed a lower receiver for an AR-15 rifle.  Earlier this year it 3D-printed a 30-round AR-15 magazine, besides obtaining a U.S. federal arms licence.  For some time other gun enthusiasts have been conducting similar experiments (e.g., see my blog post of 31 July 2012 http://vicg8.blogspot.ca/2012/07/gun-enthusiast-uses-3d-printer-to-make.html ).

After printing and testing his new 3D-printed gun, Mr. Wilson plans to upload his model files to the Internet so that anyone else can print one.  Debates are already exploding (pardon the pun) on government, legal, and social-media forums over the implications of these pending developments for gun control and civil rights.

One sample discussion can be found on LinkedIn's Disruptive Print Group at:  http://www.linkedin.com/groupItem?view=&gid=4638740&type=member&item=236917411&qid=4ce61fb7-c586-47f5-913a-d5d6d9ebe4b8&trk=group_most_popular-0-b-ttl&goback=%2Egmp_4638740
As of 3 May 2013, participates universally expressed the hope that 3D printing technology will be used for good not evil.

  I conclude that it's probably better to focus on its more constructive applications; for example, in the housing and fashion fields, cars, prosthetics for amputees, and implants for reconstructive surgery (see links below). 

Links on Cody Wilson and Defense Distributed: