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The new use for 3D printing? Printing guns

2013-03-17_190213 [1]

3D printing has been in the headlines a lot recently, due to its increasing popularity and people’s general interest in being able to create whatever they want with a printer. Cody Wilson, a second year 25-year-old law student in the great state of Texas, has decided to utilize 3D printing to print… guns.

Defense Distributed, the company founded by Cody Wilson, has been working on 3D-printed guns for a while now. However, he just received a Type 7 Federal Firearms License (FFL) which allows his company to sell certain gun components, participate in gun transactions, etc. Essentially, they are now a legal gun manufacturer.

As some people have pointed out, Defense Distributed cannot print all parts of a gun. There are some gun components that must be manufactured the traditional way, such as the metal barrel. What Defense Distributed is doing is using 3D printing to create certain components of guns which they will, without a doubt, either sell to companies that use will the parts in guns or purchase the necessary parts and then sell whole guns themselves. The following video is of an AR-15 using a component printed by Defense Distributed:

It is very interesting to note Defense Distributed has, until now, been running on “thousands of dollars monthly in donations“. However, Wilson has applied for another license (Class 2 Special Occupational Taxpayer — SOT) which, in combination with FFL, will allow Wilson and co to start selling a wide variety of guns and quit relying on donations.

Wilson himself is a stringent pro-gun advocate. He labels himself as a “crypto-anarchist” and believes in “evading and disintermediating the state”. And he is going to far lengths to making 3D printed guns available. Aside from Defense Distributed, Wilson has created DefCAD, dubbed “The Pirate Bay of guns”. Wilson plans on making 3D models of guns available on DefCAD that people can download and use to print guns on any 3D printer. Wilson vows to “turn DefCAD into the world’s first unblockable, open-source search engine for 3D printable parts. There will be no takedowns. Ever.” The following is a promo video for DefCAD:

It isn’t entirely clear what effect, if any, 3D printed guns will have on gun-related violence. As many people point out, with the inability of 3D printers to print whole guns, the need to purchase actual ammo, and the fact that firearms are already fairly easy to acquire in many places around the world, 3D printed guns may just be a way to decrease costs rather than increase supply of guns. One thing is for sure, however — this will only further fuel the pro-guns vs anti-guns fire.

[via ArsTechnica (1) [2], (2) [3], (3) [4]]