3-D Printed Guns: Congress Ready to Extend the Ban

3D_printed_weaponsEarlier this month, mere days before the anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting, Congress began proposing to extend a ban placed plastic firearms capable of evading metal detectors and X-ray machines. Narrowly beating a midnight deadline on Monday, Dec. 9th, the ban was extended for a period of ten years, though efforts to strengthen the restrictions were narrowly blocked by Congressional Republicans.

This was a bittersweet moment for advocates of gun control, but the implications of this decision go beyond the desire to not see another school shooting take place. With the growth of 3-D printing technology and fears that guns could be created using open-source software and store bought printers, preemptive measures were seen as necessary. Simply shutting down Distributed Defense’s website seemed insufficient given the interest and ease of access.

Cody-Wilson-Defense-Distributed-Wiki-Weapon-3-d-printed-gunBans on plastic and undetectable firearms were first passed during the administration of Ronald Reagan, and have been renewed twice – first in 1998 and again in 2003. But such weapons have become a growing threat and due to 3-D printing, which are becoming better and more affordable. And though public access is still limited to weapons made from ABS plastic, it may be only a matter of time before something more sophisticated becomes available.

However, advocates of gun control emphasize that this extension contains two key defeats. For starters, Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer’s desire to strengthen the ban by requiring that such weapons contain undetachable metal parts was blocked. In addition, the fact that the ban was extended for a ten-year period as is means it cannot be revisited and strengthened again in the near future.

3dmetalgun-640x353In this respect, the ban highlights a year of failure of the Obama administration and Congressional Democrats to toughen gun laws in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting. Despite this tragedy and other mass shootings – such as the one that took place at the Washington Naval Yard – and the fact that some 90% support tougher gun laws, it seems that pro-gun lobbyists and the NRA are destined to have their way for the time being.

In the meantime, we can only hope that industrial 3-D printing, which allows for objects to be created out of metal parts, does not become readily available to average citizens. The one saving grace of the 3-D printed gun is the fact that it is entirely composed of plastic, making it an ineffective (if undetectable) weapon. And here’s hoping 2014 sees a lot less violence and a lot more humanity!

Source: cbc.ca, huffingtonpost.com

World’s First 3-D Printed Metal Gun

3dmetalgun-640x353Earlier this year, Distributed Defense became the source of much controversy after they unveiled the world’s first 3-D printed gun. Known as the Liberator, this single-shot weapon was entirely composed of ABS plastic, and was the first weapon that could be created using open-source software and a 3-D printer, giving anyone with access the means to build their own firearms.

Predictably, the website was shut down and the design specs were removed, thanks to an injunction filed by the U.S. Department of Defense Trade Control just a few days after the unveiling. However, the issue was far from closed, as the case of Distributed Defense and the Liberator were clearly just a drop in the bucket of a much larger trend.liberatorAnd now, just six months later, the issue is once again rearing its head as the world’s first 3-D printed metal gun was unveiled. Created by the rapid prototyping and 3-D printing company known as Solid Concepts, this 1911 Colt .45 is a major step forward in the realm of weapons that can be built by just about anyone and counted on to remain functional after firing.

The gun was built using the relatively new process known as Selective Laser Sintering (SLS), a process that combines lasers and powdered metals to create finished products. Basically, a high-powered laser is used to fuse small particles of powder together, layer by layer, until the desired shape is created. In addition to being able to create highly intricate objects, sintering is far more efficient than the machining process.

3D-Printed-Metal-Gun-Components-Disassembled-Low-Res-640x480This latest weapon was also an improvement over the Liberator in that it was able to fire over 50 rounds with considerable accuracy, whereas the Liberator broke down after just a few shots. Made of of over 30 separate 3D printed parts, the gun is composed of stainless steel and Inconel 625 (a nickel-chromium superalloy), consistent with the original Colt design.

But before people begin to worry that this is bad news, Solid Concepts was quick to point out that the gun was printed using an industrial printer, the price of which is out of range of your average citizen. In addition, the software is not open-source, meaning people can’t simply download it from any 3-D printing website and begin producing their own private arsenal.

sinteringSolid Concepts also claims that they produced this weapon to demonstrate how 3-D printing is not just for hobbyists anymore, and how sintering is a viable way to produce delicate, precise, specific consumer and professional grade products. The company said that it is currently the only 3D printing service provider with a federal firearms license, and will be looking to provide printed gun parts for legal gun owners.

Regardless, this story serves as an example of how far the technology of 3-D printing has come in just a short amount of time. From printing models with plastic, the technology is now pushing the boundaries of industrial manufacturing and bioprinting, using everything from steel and titanium to liver and kidney cells.

Give more time and refinement, we could be entering into an age where all consumer products and necessities are created from powder and individual cells, possibly even at the atomic level. For those wondering what the next industrial revolution will look like, I suggest you look no further!

And of course, Solid Concepts captured the test firing of their 1911 Colt on video. Check it out:


Source: extremetech.com

The Future is Here: The 3D Doodler

3d_doodler_home3D printing technology has been making some serious waves in the scientific, engineering and biomedical community. It seems that every day, more and more possibilities and applications are being discovered for this revolutionary new process. However, cost remains an obvious issue. With an individual printers being large, expensive and trying to maintain, most people can’t exactly afford to put one in their home and go town with it.

Enter the 3D Doodler, the world’s first 3-dimensional printing pen that allows you to draw in the air. Much like a standard 3D printer, it employs heated ABS plastic which then cools the moment it is excreted from the devices, instantly cooling and taking shape. And much like a pen or pencil, it is compact, hand-held, and allows people to literally draw designs into being! It also requires no software or computers, making it inexpensive and easy to use.

3D_doodlerAnd the range of what one can create is pretty much limitless. Using stencils, one can create 3D models for architecture, design specs, and proposed prototypes. Or, if you should so choose, just put the pen to any surface and begin composing shapes, designs and words out of thin air. Art is also an obvious application, since it give the user the ability to create an endless array of abstract or realistic designs. And of course, modeling, as shown in the video, could become a very popular (and competitive) outlet for its use.

3D_doodler1

And in another ultra-modern twist, the designers of the 3D Doodler are using their website to elicit funds to help them crowd-fund their idea and make it commercially viable. No trouble there! Of the $30,000 needed to get the prototype off the ground, they have managed to illicit a total of $2,106,977 as of this article’s publication. Guess people really do want to see these things getting onto the shelf. Look for it at your local hardware or art supply store!

And while you’re waiting, check out the video below to see the pen in action and what things it can make.