By Tuan Nguyen
Posting in Technology
Now that someone has figured out how to print out a fully-functional firearm, 3D printing is about to become a whole lot more controversial.
You'd be hard-pressed to find anyone who has anything bad to say about 3D printing. Besides having the potential to revolutionize the manufacturing industry, the machines seem to spit out one crowd-pleaser after another, objects like musical instruments, candy, toys, trinkets and even cars. But now that someone has figured out how to print out a fully-functional firearm, the technology is about to become a whole lot more controversial.
Photos of the world's first 3D printed gun were discovered on the AR-15.com, a forum for firearms enthusiasts and supporters of gun rights. The creator, who goes by the username HaveBlue, assembled the weapon by combining the body of a normal .22 caliber pistol with that of a printed plastic version of the lower receiver used in AR-15 assault rifles (similar to the military's M16). HaveBlue then tested out the creation by successfully firing 200 rounds without any signs of malfunction or complications, according to a post on the web site.
HaveBlue documents his gunsmithing process in such a detailed way, it might be a bit unnerving for some folks. With little more than a Stratasys 3D printer, a $30 batch of plastic resin and printing specifications available on the internet, the user was able to produce several of the necessary working parts. A step-by-step blueprint for making your own AR-15 lower receiver can also be found on Thingiverse.
While only one part of the gun was actually "printed," the lower receiver is the critical piece that enables the weapon to fire. It holds the bolt, trigger and the magazine, where ammunition is stored. Thats why under the American Gun Control Act, it's this lower part that constitutes an operational gun and thus is heavily regulated.
The issue which arises now is that if anyone with a 3D printer can manufacture this part themselves or, as my previous report found, can purchase firearms freely using underground websites, what good would any form of "gun control" be?
Correction: Due to a typing error, I stated that the lower receiver "includes the bolt, trigger and the magazine, where ammunition is stored." That sentence has been changed to accurately state that "it holds the trigger and the magazine, where ammunition is stored."
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Learn more about 3D Printing:
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Jul 31, 2012
Although they created a gun using this tech the fact is pretty much a joke. It isn't really ready for prime time. Any halfway decent carpenter can make a gun out of a couple pieces of wood, a spring and a nail. I can remember them being in hobby magazines of the past.
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I can 'print' sugar based rocket propellent, so ...who needs 'guns'? In fact, if someone wants to put up a $50,000. challenge, I'll 'print' a 10 kTon nuclear warhead. I'm kidding of course, unless... my doing so is not illegal, then I am not kidding. It's just that you folks have not quite adapted to these DIY technologies and are still thinking in terms of machine shop operations and overly precise, skilled labor. If this nuke challenge is too drastic, make it a $10,000. closed house challenge. You get your gun and I'll print my device and we'll get locked into an abandoned house and see who kills who first? Anyone?
All one sees is the final result of the ill use of technology. I wonder if any one has any idea of what a setup like this would cost ! From my - limited knowledge - there are several expensive requirements to do the job. First of all you need a very high end computer and very expensive software to create the required computer design of the item to be printed. One has to be an expert at using this software - requiring many years of experience - or a laser scanning and replicating equipment. Second you need a really expensive printer to print such finely detailed 3D object plus appropriate INK (generally some kind of polymer or wax) to do the job. What one gets from this 3D print is a master for using in Investment casting of the final product. This would require a furnace to first create a hollow ceramic shell and then a foundry to cast the final product. I am not aware of any product that can do the job on the kitchen platform.
Tuan, why do you continue to spin the truth and create these misleading articles? You can fire most 22 rifles without the parts that were made on the 3D printer. But your headline screams to all the other left wing zealots out there: "OMG THEY MADE A GUN ON A 3D PRINTER" please quit your day job! maybe you can find something that doesn't require any more thought or research than what you put into your stories that you post here.
There isnt a 3d printer in the world that can print a firearm. What the guy printed was a handle for a gun, not a barrel, endstock or ammunition which are all necessary parts for a firearm. I doubt anyone would bat an eyelid if he'd printed a handle for a bow, or a survival knife. Here in the UK, we have heavy restrictions on firearms and yet that piece of work wouldnt be illegal here ON ITS OWN - Police finding a cache of these gun parts, or along with other components might have reason to believe it was more than just a model of a part of a real weapon, but on its own its just a piece of plastic. A reasonably skilled carpenter could have made that part from wood, and it would be just as functional. It doesnt even have to be the same shape, just have the appropriate mounting points, and lever mechanisms to operate as a trigger. Guns are ridiculously simple to build and modify from a mechanical standpoint - what isnt so simple is the traditional techniques and mechanisms used to build them, aka what makes a gunsmith an artist. Besides all this, it isnt guns that kill people, its people that do that. And with many things that arent even weapons...
This is only an uh-oh if you don't understand that gun control costs lives, at least of the type of gun discussed in the article. It is extremely important that we become far more educated about guns in society than we are today. This research will help: http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2010/06/10/john-lott-america-gun-ban-murders-multiple-victim-public-shootings-europe/
It's not in violation of any existing laws for an individual to manufacture a firearm for personal use. The laws apply only to items manufactured for sale or transfer. People have had, and exercised, the ability to manufacture the regulated portions of firearms long before now.
Here is a fact you didn't consider, THEY ARE ALREADY FREELY AVAILABLE ON THE WEB, oh yes, there are plenty of illegal weapons available on the internet. Next most people don't buy them because they are illegal and are scared, this printer would make no influx in the illegals weapon trade. Next is the fact that ANYONE can make these, kids in machine shop can make these assuming the teacher is stupid enough to believe the story that its for a advanced cane for the elderly or some crap. Lastly I would like to provide this, the printers show much more GOOD than BAD even if you can print out an AR-15. Can you imagine how quickly you would be able to fix something or invent something which could potentially change lives with just an idea in your head and a printer full of resin?
This was already in the news a few weeks ago. Same photos too. If I had the previous article I'll bet this article is just a rehash.
While laws about making a gun using printers (and other weapons) is now inevitable, I think there will be less mass killings, but more murders in general (because more people would be shooting back during a mass killing. However, killings in general will increase. Also making a gun and testing it without knowing what you are doing would be dangerous.
During WWII the British produced more than a million Sten sub-machine guns from bicycle and muffler shops using sheet metal and common tubing. From a risk only standpoint - there are many similar firearm designs available today that require no serious machining ability, just some hand tools and basic hardware store materials that can produce fully automatic firearms - with far less money and technology than that of 3-D printing. Also, consider that 3-D printing is limited to a very small number of very specific and purified materials not widely available and some materials necessary for firearm production totally unavailable for 3-D printing. Parts such as springs, sears and gun barrels require metallurgical processes (tempering) that can't be printed in finished form and require other technologies to produce.
Most low-end 3D printers work with plastics or resins as raw material. High-end industrial devices may also work with metallic powders. None of these are suitable for the critical parts of a firearm -- chamber, bolt, maybe also barrel -- that must resist the explosive force of the cartridge when discharged. (Ignoring some variations of firing mechanism that don't affect my point.) (This is why the world didn't end when Glock came out with their "plastic gun", despite oceans of often hysterical ink spilled by Luddite firearms opponents. Metal barrel, bolt, and guide rails for the slide -- all clearly detectable within the polymer frame.) Even hobbyist grade computer-driven milling machines only go partway towards making this technology a means of firearms proliferation. Milling out a receiver or even the parts for the bolt only get you so far. These still need (in most designs) heat treatment to achieve the correct balance of hardness, resilience, and strength. The WWII "victory" one-shot pistols were intended to be used in the equivalent of a mugging, to take real weapons from an enemy soldier. They were only one step up from a zip gun made out of plumbing supplies -- but even so, most of us would be hard pressed to make one in our workshop.
Wow, for the price of the Stratasys printer that puts out that quality you could buy a pallet of functional weapons. But a better point to all of you idiots that have a problem with this...there are about a million other easier ways to get a weapon.
Attacks by people such as the recent Colorado incident are news BECAUSE THEY ARE RARE! Worry when they no longer get reported. 9/111 only changed anything because of the number of times the 'this changes everything' statement was repeated. Tom Clancy wrote about using aircraft as bombs in 1992, and really, that's all a Kamikaze or V1 bomb was...nothing new, just hype. The security we had been using on aircraft had been in use sins the D.B.Cooper skyjack in the 70's....and it didn't and couldn't have stopped the 9/11 attack since the 'weapons' were onboard. The 'new' 'security' masses people at the main terminal instead of at the entrance to the gates--larger crowd, bigger target. It still doesn't stop weapons (repeated tests get guns and quatrts of liquids past checkpoints--last week an entire 11yo boy made it from England to Italy w/o even a boarding pass. But your odds in the US of being killed by a terrorist are the same as your furniture crushing you--and lower than a traffic accident, heart attack, or any of dozens of things. The significance of making a receiver is that it is the ONLY tightly controlled part of the weapon, barrels etc. are easily come by...most 'de-milled' weapons are missing only the receiver. 'Zip guns' have been made for years--even inside prisons, at close range, it doesn't take much. But guns aren't needed to kill, anyone trained can kill with their body parts or just about anything handy--a rolled magazine for instance. Aurora could easily have been much higher body count w/o guns, since a few well-placed explosives, or some locks and chains on doors and smoke bombs or even yelling 'Fire!' could easily kill more in a crowded theater. You want to worry?Worry that no one in political office is subject to drug testing, or required to know anything about the Constitution, or even about the position they fill. These folks make the rules, declare war and spend more money than you can possibly give them every year...most of which goes to their friends with a little bit extra for themselves. In 10 minutes with a short piece of cordage, I can make a sling which will throw a 4 oz projectile accurately up to 80 meters--hard enough to kill. It's quiet, easy to conceal and quite legal and deadly. Most martial arts weapons are adaptations of common tools and such, developed precisely because the rulers banned traditional 'weapons.' Controlling weapons is not only ineffective and impossible, it does nothing to control violence. To control violence, you must eliminate tolerance for violence throughout society. Starting with children, businessmen and politicians. Get rid of unenforceable and redundant laws--disregard and contempt for any law rapidly spreads to all law. Quite reacting to violence with violence. Stop intolerance of others simply because they are different. Your biggest threat is the government you set to serve you, which now serves only those who run it and their pals. Start by stopping to think before acting. When you begin to be scared because of something someone is saying, stop,consider, is there reason to fear? Or are they using fear to motivate you into making poor decisions?
You liberals really don't get anything. You wouldn't have the freedom to write freely without private gun ownership. Remember the American Revolution? Probably not. Gun control can't fix the problem, which is the heart of man. It wouldn't have fixed the recent or past Colorado incidents, Virginia Tech, or anything else. People with criminal intent will always get guns and even if not, they'll try some other way. Gun control only means that a responsible citizen doesn't have the means to stop violent crime. And no, the police are never there to help. They only come to clean up the mess. Only those who believe that man is basically good apart from his environment and that we can always trust the gub'ment would buy the scare tactics that you've wasted our time with.
Why do we continue to focus on the thing instead of the behavior. Do people actually believe that if the thing was not available then the behavior would not ensue. Be very careful what you wish for. As our militaries and police forces gain an ever increasing technological advantage over the common citizen, it is only a few steps away from tyranny. Our founding fathers were quite aware of the risk of allowing their citizens to keep and bear arms. They also knew that the risk and cost of tyranny was far worse. If someone in the audience in the Colorado movie theater had been armed and trained I suspect that the casualty list would have been only 1. The perpetrator.
Why is this any more controversial than printing any other object that could be mis-used? A razor handle? A house key? A counterfeit Rolex? Besides, there is no suggestion that the guy printed the barrel or chamber or any of the parts necessary to prevent the thing from going BOOM! when the trigger is pulled...
Good morning tuan, coffee in the patio first? "Lupita, coffee for el Senor Tuan por favor". On this, we see eye to eye, it indicates just how foolish additional firearm laws would be. The criminals, as have been conclusively, and logically shown, will not obey them, just the law abiding ones, and 'they' aren't involved in these shootouts.. I remember in WW-2, we, and the various resistance movements were shown how to make simple pistols of common household products. On a one to one encounter at close range they were quite effective. We were even shown how to make improvised powder and ignition systems for recycling cartridges. Many of these variants were used by the criminals after. So apparently we have a system of creating short liived low powered firearms via the computer, what next ? control of computers and 3/D printouts? Where does it stop? "We didn't need no stinkin computer". Don Jose de La Mancha
Every technology has an equal opportunity to be used for bad as it does for good. This reminds me of the early '90s when people were talking of opening up the Internet to the world; the proponents could easily see all the wonderful things it could accomplish, and yet were completely blind to the possible negative uses that quickly became a reality; spam, international crime, hacking, malware, espionage, child pornography, trafficing & exploitation, etc. And I'm sure there are things even far more dangerous that guns that 3D printing will be capable of. When any technology becomes available to the world, you have to expect that it will be used as people see fit, good and bad. The problem isn't the technology. It's people.
It has been quite some time since the US military used M16s. The current weapon is the M4. It does resemble the M16, but is not the same weapon. Just a bit of an update for the writer.
just like all the other gun laws and laws against murder, rape, etc. Killing someone who is trying to kill you is not murder. And there is nothing wrong with killing as long as the right people get killed. Your last sentence is correct.
- - Controlling weapons is not only ineffective and impossible, it does nothing to control violence. To control violence, you must eliminate tolerance for violence throughout society. Starting with children, businessmen and politicians. - -
This is article is a month old and 75 more people have died since it was written. The death toll passed 300 this week. After reporting on 3 straight weekends with 10 or more killed before May 1st the major media stopped covering the murder fest going on in Chicago. To watch ABC, CBS, NBC and the like you would thing no one has died in Chicago since June. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/16/chicago-homicide-rate-wor_n_1602692.html
It would be great if every situation with an evil shooter had one armed and trained citizen! Now imagine the same situation with a dozen armed and trained citizens. Bad guy starts shooting. 12 people draw guns and look around. Who shoots at who? When and how does the cease-fire happen?
Exactly, he only printed the lower. No barrel, no upper reciever. Go to Guns.com and read the real article about this feat.
I wonder what they'd build. Anything really scary like a flying drone, RPG or missile would require complex control circuitry and motors which can't be printed and/or explosives, which would limit their spread. A gun's all simple moving parts and the "warhead" is simply ammunition (which people aren't printing - yet). Any ideas what else might be coming up, other than "a bigger gun"?
I don't think people understand that some criminals are adopting to tech, or adopting tech, faster than Govt. agencies do. They (criminals) see the opportunities for themselves, and act quickly, IMHO.... Thanks... TW
The M-16A4 is the current model being used by the majority of the armed services. For the most part, only special forces and some regular units (depending on the need and availability) are using the M-4. The Marine Corps will be the primary user of the M-4 in the future as the Army are looking to transition to whatever ends up coming out of the OICW/Individual Carbine (and related) projects. However, most of the rifles in service today are still M-16s - generally A4s. The M-4 isn't all that new itself.. it has been around for close to 20 years now.
Every weekend has had at least 1 report of shootings. They do tend to focus more on the young people that get injured or killed and I am certain they are not reporting anywhere near the actual amount of incidents. Gun control laws are silly in that they only deter "law-abiding" people. The majority of shootings are done by gangs or people who acquire their weapons through UNLAWFUL means. People fall on the demand for Gun-control laws because they need a crutch to lean on. They want reassurance that their actions are helping the situation and are easily sated by the band-aid solution that falls off easily when put to the test.
Several of the people in the theatre that night were combat veterans. At least one was a Marine who had served multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan and had seen combat in both countries. In other words, a man who knew combat situations, had MOUT training (and had likely been involved in urban combat). In other words, one thing which would have happened in all likely-hood, was that the shooter would have been taken down rapidly by people who knew how to do just that. It could have saved lives if they'd been armed that night.
The flying drones are already done. The good is anyone will be able to manufacture the guns of their choice. Cheap guns for the poor who are the people most likely to not be able to afford the $1500.00 cost.
The obvious answer is to print intelligent life! Many artificial parts already exist. Most are simple items like bladders and ears, but some parts won't be needed since they are basically "support" systems. Look to the (not too distant) future and you might see a world where condoms have been replaced by software...
i know this is fairly old but i think the people who truly misunderstand are individuals such as yourself. first of all none of the printed guns has lasted more then 450 rounds. second and most important is anyone has been able to manufacture weapons since pretty much forever. if its illegal for you to own said firearm because of being a criminal it is still illegal, nothing can be done to stop them however since long before 3d printing it literally only required a drill press and some chunks of metal to make ar-15 lowers. this is something that is fully legal and hasnt caused massive issues. these criminals arnt highly intelligent people like you seem to think if they where they would do something else. bottom line they will stick to there hi point pistols that no self respecting gun owner would purchase yet fit right in for a criminal at $150 especially if they can have a gang member stay clean to purchase them. last auction i went to had 6 AK-47'S full auto(meaning they came from outside the united states, since you cannot convert the semi auto easily contrary to popular belief trust me im an armorer) 30 hi point pistols and 3 semi auto high point rifles. not a single ar 15 or other reputable firearm that enthusiasts actually buy. printing is just a novelty anyway since the primary purpose to go for a ar-15 is accuracy which will be given up if printed due to strength.
The M4 is the current rifle being used by the armed services, for the most part only the USMC use the M16 anymore. also the Individual Carbine program is mainly just updating the M4 with a piston instead of the current direct impingement. Finally, it is correct to refer to the M16 lower and M4 lower as the same, as the differences between them are so minute that they boil down to time of manufacture, as both weapons use over 80% of the same parts, and to convert a M4 to an M16 one would only need to swap out the uppers.