From British Science Association News Digest....
3D guns you can print at home
3D printing has been hailed by some as the future of the manufacturing industry. Whereas traditional printers can replicate 2D designs using ink, 3D printers build up layers of plastic, to build a solid object. Supporters suggest that in the future, consumers may find that it is cheaper to download templates for everything from toys to shoes, and produce goods at home, than to buy them.
Although still relatively new, the technology has raised some interesting dilemmas already, and this week has seen the first gun made using a 3D printer, successfully fired.
The gun, which was produced in the United States, contains only one metal component, the firing pin. This has caused significant concern, as the gun would not be sensed by metal detectors, feasibly making it much easier to move the weapons on-board aircraft.
The BBC describes how Senators have already called for a ban on guns produced by 3D printers, under the Undetectable Firearms Act, although the producers “Defense Distributed” have acted lawfully, and there is currently nothing to stop them making the blueprint publically available. The US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) granted a license which permits Defense Distributed to manufacture and sell firearms. A spokesperson from ATF, told the BBC that it would be legal in the United States, for people to manufacture firearms for their own use, as long as it did not contravene the National Firearms Act (for example, automatic weapons), and producers would only be required to apply for a licence if they were producing guns that would be sold on.
Given the current debate about whether more, or fewer guns would make America safe, this new technology adds a new dimension to the argument.