3D printing, while a relatively nascent trend just a few short years ago, has gone mainstream. In fact, you’ll soon be able to buy a 3D printer at Staples, a first for a retailer as far as I know. With a 3D printer in your possession you can build a myriad of inanimate objects and depending on your ingenuity and creativity the sky is the limit. Most people will use them to craft cute toys for their niece, such as cups and things that do anything but elicit a negative reaction.
But the fuzzy and warm face of 3D printing is beginning to shift. Shift towards more dastardly objects. Objects that have long been a point of debate and a concern of law makers. And just a few days ago, the first 3D printed gun, an actual working one, was crafted and tested at a shooting range just an hour north of Austin, Texas.
Created by Cody Wilson, a 25-year old Texas resident, and from the sounds of it a self described radical libertarian and anarchist, the 3D printed gun has been dubbed the “Liberator”, an ode to the single shooter guns used by the Allies in France during World War II. 15 of the gun’s 16 parts were “printed” inside an $8,000 Stratasys Dimension SST 3D printer. The 16th piece is a hardware store bought nail that serves as the gun’s firing pin.
As promised, Wilson published the blueprints to the gun on his website. It’s a point of contention, and long has been when it comes to printing a 3D gun, if the plastic like material could handle the pressure and heat from firing a .38 bullet. Capable or not, Wilson has received numerous death threats, and will likely face additional opposition from law makers.
But it’s important to note that Wilson’s goal isn’t to put guns into the hands of criminals, mentally ill, or terrorists. And while it’s debatable how rich the sub text of his action are, it does put the process in the public’s viewpoint before a more heinous act is committed and if anything has expedited legislation that will soon surround 3D printed weapons.