A Virginia man has stoked a firestorm of controversy by creating the first football player made with a 3D printer. The move has spurred immediate calls for banning the technology on the grounds that it limits accountability placed on those who use it.
The player, called “Logan Paulsen”, was made with a 3D printer purchased on eBay for $8,000, and constructed with various pieces of plastic culled from area dumping grounds. According to a witness who saw the player’s first scrimmage, only one part of the player’s body – his hair – was made from actual human parts.
3D printing technology has already been a hot-button issue in gun control debates as opponents believe it will be impossible for authorities to control the spread of guns made with printers once the technology becomes widespread. With the creation of a plastic football player, the conversation has extended into safety issues central to the future of the National Football League.
The player’s creator, Mike Shanahan, of Ashburn, VA, claims the plastic football player is a safer alternative than the human players who currently populate the game.
“Look, the public gets all mad when I break the flesh players,” he said. “This is the next best thing. I can tear the shit out of these plastic jobbers and ain’t nobody gonna care. When I destroy one player’s knee, I can just head on over to that doohickey and make me a new one. What’s the problem with that?”
Beyond initial concerns that some have about being unsettled by the idea of watching what are essentially plastic replicants playing a sport that has always been played by living, breathing human beings, there is the matter of who would represent the plastic players in labor debates.
“We have significant concerns on a number of points,” said NFLPA executive director for external affairs George Atallah. “First, the presumption is that these plastic players would eventually be taking the jobs of the athletes we represent. Secondly, that these plastic players will be considered disposable if they do not receive adequate representation, either from agents or a labor organization.”
Shanahan brushed off those concerns.
“We can probably print up some plastic lawyers and agents with this thing,” he said. “But I’d rather not.”
The NFL was quick to respond to the successful test. In a note disseminated to teams yesterday, the league dictated that no plastic players are to be used in games unless the human player it would replace receives a concussion or “gets their bell rung real good”.