Oh, brother, here we go again.
YouTube user ThreeDUkelele posted a video where he showed off his “Grizzly” 3D printed rifle. Unlike its namesake, the Grizzly is not rough, tough, and tumble. After one shot, the barrel split for two inches and it also wrecked the receiver. In other words, it fired the bullet incredibly inefficiently and using this thing would probably at the very least injure you and quite possibly kill you.
Also, it was printed out on a Stratasys Dimension 1200es 3D printer, which is not one of those cuddly little action figure makers you find on Kickstarter; used, it can run you $8,000, and that’s if you get a deal. So, essentially, somebody with a very, very expensive toy decided to try and use it to make a gun, and only succeeded in the narrow technical sense of discharging a bullet.
Needless to say, this has fired up the gun control and 3D printing debates on Facebook all over again, but it really shouldn’t, for one simple reason: This whole thing is, in the end, pretty stupid.
Here’s a fun fact most people who use videos like this don’t realize as they yell at each other on Facebook: You don’t need a 3D printer to build a crappy gun that fires a .22 round. What you need is a nail, a tube, some way of pulling the nail back so that it hits the round more or less in the right spot with high kinetic energy, and the stupidity to build the thing in the first place. Ten bucks at the hardware store and two minutes at home and you basically have the Grizzly. Furthermore, the precision engineering required to create a gun that won’t make pulling the trigger a coin flip on serious injury may not be available for decades.
So basically, these are nerds with too much money screwing around with 3D printers. But we guess that’s not a compelling angle for freaked-out news reports.
Dan Seitz is an obsessive nerd living in New England. He lives in the Boston area with a fiancee, a dog, a cat, and far too many objects with processors.