You may or may not have heard of 3D printing, the decade-old technology that is becoming increasingly available to the public. For those unaware, Mashable sums it up:
“Additive manufacturing or 3D printing is a process of making three dimensional solid objects from a digital model. 3D printing is achieved using additive processes, where an object is created by laying down successive layers of material. 3D printing is considered distinct from traditional machining techniques (subtractive processes) which mostly rely on the removal of material by drilling, cutting etc.”
Peep the following video to really understand the fascinating gadget:
That’s the commercial version, the same kind that is currently available for purchase at Staples.
“Staples today announced that it’s begun selling 3D Systems’ Cube 3D Printer for $1,299. The device won’t be in stores until the end of June, and even then it will only be available from a “limited number” of locations. But online orders kick off immediately, so you can order one from the Staples website and have it shipped to your door starting today.” [The Verge]
Without a doubt, 3D-printing is cool f*cking technology that seems both important and insignificant at the same time. Being able to render any digital image into a real-life replica? Mind-blowing stuff. But, at this point, the practical uses seemed limited.
Until news broke that the medium’s first gun has been designed and developed, that is.
“Early next week, [Cody] Wilson, a 25-year University of Texas law student and founder of the non-profit group Defense Distributed, plans to release the 3D-printable CAD files for a gun he calls “the Liberator”… [Forbes]
All sixteen pieces of the Liberator prototype were printed in ABS plastic with a Dimension SST printer from 3D printing company Stratasys, with the exception of a single nail that’s used as a firing pin. The gun is designed to fire standard handgun rounds, using interchangeable barrels for different calibers of ammunition.”
It goes without saying that this is a country with a gun fetish. Some may call it a problem. But regardless of where you stand on gun control issues, this news has to be of some concern; with technology like this, obtaining a gun has become easier than ordering some new sneakers online. The price tag might be a bit high, but as with any new bit of technology, years on the market will lower prices.
This can’t be what the creators of the product had in mind, and it certainly has to have some people in Washington sweating. Whatever happens next is anybody’s guess, but one of the most interesting – and, potentially, terrifying – stories of 2013 is leaving the station.
Let’s hope it ends well.
Update: As expected, the “Liborator” was complete. Took only 24 hours to be etched with the 3D printer. And now, law makers’ biggest fears came true: the blueprint for the design was released to the public via the Internet.
15 of the 16 components were all composed from the printer, sans the firing pin. Pistols of this degree have around for decades, but none able to be crafted with such precision in such little time. The fine folks at Defense Distribution say the .308 will require quite a bit of retweaking.
The site providing the design were already flooded with interested designers. Time will tell how much further the art will carry weapon making.