Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

3-D Printers Can Produce Homemade Guns

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

3-D Printers Can Produce Homemade Guns

Article excerpt

The development of a new technology always has unintended consequences as devices created for one purpose are used in ways never envisioned.

So it is with 3-D printing, also called additive manufacturing.

A 3-D printer makes a three-dimensional solid object from instructions in the form of a digital Computer Aided Design file. The object is created by laying down successive layers of material - - thermoplastics or thermoplastic powder, metal or metal powder, plaster, paper, metal alloys among them.

The process has been in use in industry for years. The difference now is that 3-D printers are becoming cheaper and aimed at the home market. A home 3-D printer costs about $1,000, but with Chinese companies getting involved, that cost could drop to $500.

Theoretically, if you have the right machine, the proper digital instructions and the raw materials, you could make almost anything.

One possibility is to make replacements parts. Everyone has had an incident where a small plastic or metal part has cracked or broken, rendering an entire device inoperable. I have written about a plastic switch in my refrigerator breaking and being without refrigeration for days waiting for the part.

If I had a home 3-D printer and the manufacturer made the instructions for that part downloadable from the Internet, I could have had my cold beverages back in a few hours.

But here comes the unintended consequence part: Among the items a 3-D printer can make is a gun.

This apparently is already going on at an industrial level. Stratasys, an additive manufacturing company, is working with Knight's Armament Company, which makes gun grips and firearms, and Remington Arms, the country's largest producer of shotguns and rifles, to perfect the printing of guns, Wired.com wrote.

And bits.blogs.nytimes.com reported that Cody Wilson, a law student at the University of Texas, is in the process of building a completely functional printed gun that he calls the Wiki Weapon. …

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