3D printing of guns (and other illegal things)

“Will 3D printing impact our personal freedoms? Cody Wilson hopes so. The founder of Texas-based Defense Distributed, a non-profit committed to “facilitating global access to, and the collaborative production of, information and knowledge related to the 3D printing of arms,” gave a talk last week at SXSW during which he posited that gun-control laws would be rendered obsolete by technology.”


This guy brings up a good point. If we have an easy way to replicate physical objects, like through 3D printing, how do we regulate the production of such objects? Will the government have to regulate the schematics or design files for 3D printers? Will 3D printers be limited to licensed users (probably not). What other nonsense will people start to produce (like life size Beyonce dolls)? After being dumped by your gf/bf, will you print out a life size copy of their body to lay next to you in bed while you gently rock yourself to sleep? This is an issue of potential practical and academic importance.

Yeah, I saw this and thought it was interesting.

Regarding the current magazine ban’s in particular: Being able to produce illegal things like high cap magazines yourself has always been an possibility with traditional methods, although I guess this 3D printing thing has made it easier or maybe it’s just getting headlines because it’s new technology. I also wonder how much of an issue this is since I don’t know a single person that owns or knows how to operate a 3D printer. On a more practical level, those cheap plastic magazines would last about 10 seconds in a “heavy use” environment before an impact or whatever would break them and I imagine they’d have reliability issues with jamming. An entire gun just seems silly, the thing would be beyond useless. To me, I think this is getting undue press given the estimated 40,000,000 high capacity magazines currently in circulation.

That being said, obviously the technology will improve in some regard although I’m not really sure to what extent and with what increase in cost that would limit accessibility. But at the moment, the printer may be a null issue as the AR ban looks DOA and the high cap mag ban which I thought was as given (and am not entirely against) seems like it may even fail to pass (which I find kind of suprising).

Part of me wanted something to pass going forward so the 32 high cap mags I picked up last month won’t be in vain :confused:

Can’t wait until we can 3D print viruses!

At that point, digital viruses and real viruses can be one and the same. You can actually have a viral avatar, or maybe the real virus is the avatar of the digital one…

Well, from what I have heard the technology would be sufficient to produce individual pieces of an overall mechanism (like a gun) but those pieces would still need to be assembled. Would a commercially available 3D printer be accurage enough to prince pieces of a gun? I mean, I guess technically if you have the molds and means of production then you could have been making guns illegally for the last 40 years? I confess, I don’t know enough about gun manufacturing to say.

At first it seems like the illegal things to be printed will involve copyright infringement and bongs (ahem, water pipes).

As I mentioned, a 3D printed gun would be “beyond useless” for some of the reasons alluded to before. And a 3D printed bong? WTF? Why would that make any sense whatsoever?! Firstly, current 3D printers (at least those generally available) all use soft moldable plastics (I’m assuming you knew this, also why a gun would be pointless made out of a printer… assembled or not is completely beyond the point). You gonna smoke a burning material out of a plastic pipe? And invest in all this gear when you can walk down to a local shop and just buy a quality glass one legally?

I get the sense that the challenge is that the way 3-D printing works, it’s hard to get components that will be able to withstand the stresses of firing a bullet. There are some people who have printed guns and fired them: they tend to jam after a few rounds because the resin gets torn apart by the kickback and heat and such. Frankly, I’m surprised that the thing doesn’t completely blow up in one’s hand on the first shot, but I guess the resin is pretty good for most non-explosive purposes.

At some point, there will likely be better mechansims, but that’s the limitation for now.

In any case, one or two rounds may be enough to do the job in many cases.

(You’d also have to get real bullets - it may be a while before a general-purpose 3D printer can print gunpowder)

Yeah, but that brings me back to the original point, other than being an interesting news item, is a gun that jams / breaks after two shots better than what you can buy legally (especially considering the cost of a 3D printer)? I mean, you could argue it gets around tracing, but if that’s your issue and you’re willing to get that technical, then just machine another barrel and you have a working gun. I mean, the technology may advance, but I feel like to properly make parts out of solid materials you’d be creating extremely high price points to the extent that it makes more sense to just machine the part.

I remember long cylindar plastic bongs from back in the day. They just had metal/glass slides, I think. If you’re under 18 then you can’t buy a smoking device most places, and what kid wouldn’t rather print his own than deal with the awkwardness of walking into a headshop without ID.

I had a friend in HS that we called MacGyver and that guy could literally make a bong out of anything. You could point to a brick and that kid could make a bong out of it. He used to make bongs out of milk jugs all the time. With a 3D printer he could’ve done amazing things.

I guaruntee you in this day and age there is not a kid using a plastic bong for anything more than a improvisation made out of a soda bottle because they left their’s at home or whatever. You’re right, the fact that head shops only sell to 18+ is a real issue for a kid buying pot. LOL

^^^This is the kind of debate I can get down with.

Are there a lot of headshops out in the country nowadays? Most smoking device improvisations occur far from a headshop, or while a headshop is inaccessable.

At any rate, I am 100% certain that somebody (nay, many people) will print bongs once 3d printers become widely available. I think it is very likely that somebody had already made a bong with a 3D printer just for the heck of it.

I don’t think we need to limit the argument to today’s plastics. It’s not hard to imagine that future 3D printers will be able to print glass, ceramic, or even metal.

Anyway, the academically interesting argument is that existing laws, like copyright or gun regulation, might one day extend to individual rights to produce physical things using easily available technology. This has already happened for digital things - for instance, intellectual property law for music or video is important because everyone has access to media replication technology. One day, if people have easy access to 3D printing, many laws will extend their reach to encompass this new technology as well.

Well, I think the concern is that you get a 3D printer to print out other stuff, and then one day, someone decides to go and print out a gun to kill someone (kid got teased badly at school and doesn’t realize that death is real, or wife/husband discovers emails uncovering a spouse’s affair, etc.). At that point, one or two shots may be all you need… or you print out 2 or 3 guns.

I don’t know exactly what one does about it, but it does seem that once 3D printing becomes better and more commonplace, these scenarios become a lot easier to imagine.

One thing that is intersesting is that if you try to scan money and print it form your printer, Adobe software and others will make sure that it gets printed strangely, so that it’s obvious that it’s not real currency. With a few alterations, you can sometimes get around that stuff, but it will never look like real currency. I wonder if software that drives printers might do something like that, say disconnect a firing mechanism… but I think in 3D it would actually be easier to get around any kinds of safeguards like that, even if one decided one wanted to implement them.

Frank is gonna 3d print kim ks ass.

Yes, I grew up on a 500 acre farm. They’re ubiquitous. If it’s a nowadays thing, it may just be that you’re out of touch. Not sure if you’re heard, but it’s legal now in a several states.

Again, I’m not sure if you understand how these printers work, but they use soft plastics… the type that melt when exposed to temperatures. In other words, you’d just be breathing plastic fumes. Hence why nobody uses them when glass ones are freely available. I’m a freaking raft guide in the summers man, and I just got back from Ultra, don’t act like I’m not in touch with this community. But sure, if it makes you happy to think so, go ahead.

It seems plain silly to me to worry about this contingency in a country where guns are ubiquitous as they are. I mean, if you’re so concerned that a kid can do XYZ with a gun that barely works “because it’s all that you need” then we should start a discussion on bricks and crowbars because theoretically a kid could just go home one day and pick one up because he got teased and “it’s all that you need” even if it barely works. Is that really the level of legal nerf ball this country has descended to?

Haha, that definitely proves your marijuana chops.

Black Swan is feeling very argumentative today. Ok, I will submit to your raft guide and Ultra knowledge and accept that nobody will ever use a 3D printer to create a device to smoke the devil’s lettuce. I mean, you just proved a negative for the first time in history.

See, that was what I originally thought, but then I started conceptualizing it and figured that it would be unlikely without becoming exorbitantly pricey and complex. To the point where it’s not worth worrying about. Glass, ceramic and metal 3D programmable machines already exist, and have for many years. They’re what basically are used in all factories and they’re crazy $$$$. It won’t change any time soon. You’re not going to work with metal or super heated glass the way you are a low temp soft plastic, it’s the nature of the materials.

So we’re arguing that one time maybe this might happen once? Yes, we should also worry ourselves with banning pretty much everything ever invented then.

I don’t think we should ban 3D printers for really any reason. I all for people owning them. I just finding it surprising how much the topic of 3D printing bongs rouses your ire. I mean, my orignal post was

“At first it seems like the illegal things to be printed will involve copyright infringement and bongs (ahem, water pipes).”

and then you blew up on me for some reason.

Obviously they have high tech stuff like in CO I saw a laser pointer that was actually a smoking device filled with hash oil cartridges (mini vaporizer). Doesn’t mean people won’t 3D print bongs, largely because they can.