This feature can also be found at the South West Londoner, here.
printing press in the 1400s was one of the great innovations of
humanity - allowing us to communicate with others, duplicate important
texts, and, several hundred years of improvements later, drown
beleaguered office staff under mountains of paperwork.
now we've moved on to the next dimension with the 3D printer. It does
exactly what the name suggests - creating copies of objects rather than
text. Instead of being filled with ink cartridges, they take a feedstock
of molten plastic (or even organic material if you want to print a
hamburger), building up the finished product layer by layer.
technology has been around for a few years, existing within
construction and engineering industries. The age of commercialised 3D
printers is inching closer, although it's still too pricey to show up in
your Argos catalogue. Even the cheapest models these days will set you
back around £5,000.
useful potential for 3D printing is astounding - if your wardrobe,
bicycle or washing machine broke and needed a small obscure part, you
could just print it at home. Creative types could make anything from
furniture to musical instruments to kitsch mantelpiece ornaments.
Or, if you're Defense Distributed, you could start a line of printable firearms.
arms manufacturing company had previously been designing components for
existing guns, but their current project is for the "Liberator", a
handgun made entirely from printable parts with the exception of a metal
firing pin (an ordinary nail from any hardware store).
for the Liberator were released on the internet earlier this week, and
already over 100,000 people have downloaded it, according to Forbes.
The complete model looks like something from a shooting game made by Fisher Price, but its firing capability is definitely real.
have downloaded the plans from both the company's website, and through a
torrent hosted on The Pirate Bay. The majority of the downloads were in
the US, but large numbers of downloads also came from Spain, Brazil and
authorities are sweating bullets over the idea that a firearm is so
easily accessible. The Senator of California, Leland Yee, showed concern
over a widely available gun that can't be picked up by metal detectors.
here, the Metropolitan Police have put out a statement, reminding that
our gun control laws require a person to be a Registered Firearms Dealer
to manufacture a gun. So while having the blueprint isn't illegal,
printing out the parts will get you nicked.
US State Department sent a letter to Cody Wilson, Defense Distributed's
founder, with a demand that the online blueprints are taken down. Of
course, now they've been made public, totally eradicating them is
decidedly impossible. Still, Defense Distributed have removed the item
from their servers.
decision to release the blueprints publicly ties into Mr Wilson's
stance on information censorship. An 'all information should be without
regulation' stance similar to that of Julian Assange is partnered with Wilson's politics on gun control.
my opinion, that's an evil scheme if I ever saw one. To tie freedom of
information (which I mostly agree with as a journalist) with
pro-firearms rhetoric really shoots holes in the credibility of the
former. At least any anti-establishment sentiments he had fell by the
wayside when he sheepishly removed the blueprints from his site when
feels like the age of domestic 3D printers will be postponed - I don't
see HP and Epson wanting to make consumer models when the public see the
technology as inherently dangerous or illegal.
was looking forward to being printing new glasses frames, fashion
accessories and miniature figurines of video game characters, but until
the violence fetishists are out of the public focus, my 3D modelling
hobby shall have to be put on hold.
is some, hope, though. Chris Anderson, the CEO of 3D Robotics says that
3D printing is a bad method for gun manufacturing, as the plastic
wouldn't be able to handle the tensile strength their metal brethren are