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3D printing and Gun Control

The End of Gun Control?

Given the recent appalling events in Aurora, Colorado, there’s been a renewed call for greater gun control and a ban on assault weapons.

I’m in favor of tighter gun control and a ban on weapons that are unnecessarily powerful but I’m afraid that technology will soon make any legislation that limits the availability of any kinds of guns ineffective.

To understand why this might happen, you need to understand a technology called 3D printing.

3D printing allows you to build things that are, as the name implies, three dimensional. A few years ago 3D printers were very rare, hugely expensive, and hard to use. But as with anything that can be driven by computers, 3D printers has become cheaper and cheaper to the point where, today, you can buy a 3D printer, off the shelf, for as little $500.

Using either free or low cost computer aided drafting software you can create digital 3D models of pretty much anything you can think of and, with hardly any fuss, your 3D printer will render them as physical objects.

The only contraints on what you can print are that the size of the printed object (typically a maximum of 6 inches by 6 inches by 6 inches unless you spend more money on your printer ; the bigger the final object you want, the more you’ll have to spend), the material printed (all of the low end printers can, at present, only print with thermosetting plastics; very high end printers can print with ceramics and metals), and the resolution of the printer (for current low end printers this is typically around 0.1mm).

So, can you print a gun? Yep, you can and that’s exactly what somebody with the alias “HaveBlue” did.

To be accurate, HaveBlue didn’t print an entire gun, he printed a “receiver” for an AR-15 (better known as the military’s M16) at a cost of about $30 worth of materials.

The receiver is, in effect, the framework of a gun and holds the barrel and all of the other parts in place. It’s also the part of the gun that is technically, according to US law, the actual gun and carries the serial number.

When the weapon was assembled with the printed receiver HaveBlue reported he fired 200 rounds and it operated perfectly.

HaveBlue uploaded his digital model to several 3D model archives and at least one, Makerbot, has since banned gun models but Thingiverse, another major archive, still has the receiver model available.

What’s particularly worrisome is that the capability to print metal and ceramic parts will appear in low end printers in the next few years making it feasible to print an entire gun and that will be when gun control becomes a totally different problem.

Will there be legislation designed to limit freedom of printing? The old NRA bumper sticker “If guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns” will have to be changed to “If guns are outlawed, outlaws will have 3D printers.”




The End of Gun Control? - Forbes
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Old 07-29-2012, 12:49 PM
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Amazing! Thanks for the link.
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Old 07-29-2012, 12:56 PM
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what's fascinating to me is that i have an old gun that is just a couple tiny parts away from being full on schnellfuer.
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Old 07-29-2012, 01:03 PM
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Wow, This is scary. Now, Murder is illegal so if we outlaw guns it will stop all gun violence! oh wait, outlawing murder STOPPED murder right?


The pistol that this guy made used .22Long rifle ammo. Far cry from 5.56 AR15 ammo.

<-this guy was saved by owning a firearm.

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Old 07-29-2012, 01:15 PM
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He wants to ban guns that are, "unnecessarily powerful".

I have a feeling that is the next talking point.
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Old 07-29-2012, 01:57 PM
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Clearly they need to ban CNC machines, metal lathes and forges too, since they could all be used to manufacture guns. Might as well ban anvils and hammers too.
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Old 07-29-2012, 06:42 PM
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Varmit,

PLEASE TAKE THIS AS HUMOR.

Look up "Varmit round"
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Old 07-29-2012, 07:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Seahawk View Post
He wants to ban guns that are, "unnecessarily powerful".

I have a feeling that is the next talking point.
before the election???...
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Old 07-29-2012, 08:11 PM
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"What’s particularly worrisome is that the capability to print metal and ceramic parts will appear in low end printers in the next few years making it feasible to print an entire gun and that will be when gun control becomes a totally different problem."

BS for now and perhaps for quite a few years - I recently spent some time on a committee looking at what the metal rendering rapid prototype machines can do. They cost a $1 million plus each, the input materials are several hundred dollars or more per pound and the part is either built in a protective atmosphere or under vacuum. This is not equipment a hobbyist will have in his basement or garage. Not one of the machines could make a part with the properties one would need in a gun barrel or other similar parts that must be reliable. The parts made are not fully dense and are riddled with residual stress from the intermittent nature of the "printing" process. The metallurgy is a still along way from forged or rolled or even cast metal.

This is a red herring in the gun control debate.
Old 07-29-2012, 09:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Sims View Post
....
This is a red herring in the gun control debate.
+1 Much ado about nothing.

btw, does anyone have a 3-D model of a Mr. Fusion? ...I'm working on something.
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Old 07-29-2012, 10:06 PM
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