The world’s first firearm created using a Stratasys Dimension SST3D printer has been successfully fired. This has caused anti-firearm groups to voice their concerns – anyone with access to this technology can create a lethal weapon.
This 3D printer technology has been described as the “future of manufacturing.” It is predicted that over the coming years, more and more product blueprints will become available to download and more and more products will be manufactured at home.
Defense Distributed is a controversial group, headed by a twenty five year old law student from the University of Texas, Cody Wilson. The aim of the organisation is to publish the blueprints of firearms, meaning that anyone owning one of these futuristic printers is able to download the plan and manufacture their own weapon.
Fifteen parts of the gun, named “The Liberator,” were made from ABS plastic, using the printer which was purchased on eBay for around £5000. The only added component was the metal firing pin. Defense Distributed see this as a way of allowing people to defend themselves more easily, but it is clear that this could lead to a complete lack of control – no records of gun ownership – it would become impossible to regulate. The fact that the gun is made out of plastic is also problematic, meaning it could be smuggled into sports matches and other events undetected. As a result of this recent development, American lawmakers have since recommenced talks on how they can regulate 3D printed guns.
Despite the potentially life threatening implications of this advance in technology, it can’t be denied that the possibility of printing products in our own home is incredible – it has even been claimed that this technology could be able to produce customisable human organs and body parts, with no chance of donor rejection as these would be produced using the patients DNA. However, something needs to be done about the fact that this technology could be used to create items that are dangerous and the disadvantages of 3D printing need to be better understood before they can be regulated.