3D Printer Gun-Making Is Now a Reality

May 5, 2013 in Technology, Top News

WikiWep Devblog Test Run of Printed Gun

The result of a test run to produce a 3D printed Gun. Source: WikiWep PrintableGun.com.

Cody Wilson is widely known as a free-market anarchist and as the founder and director of Defense Distributed, a non-profit organization that develops and publishes open-source gun designs. Friday, he claimed success in his goal of building a gun with a 3D printer.

3D printing has caused a stir in tech communities in recent months. The technology molds plastic, layer by layer, to create a variety of objects. Originally used to make small, simple objects, 3D printing has evolved significantly in a short amount of time. News blog policymic.com touts some of the more incredible 3D printing achievements: successfully manufactured bikinis, a human jawbone and  a working bicycle.

Wilson has demonstrated more controversial plans for the technology. The University of Texas law student has made a name for himself by dedicating the past eight months to building a working gun prototype entirely through 3D printing technology.

Wilson has not yet conducted extensive testing of his product at this time. He did reveal the mechanics of the gun to Forbes staff writer Andy Greenberg, however. The plastic-mold gun has an interchangeable barrel that allows it to fire a variety of bullets typically used in standard pistols. There is one other caveat: the gun is not 100 percent printed. It does use a nail as its firing pin, and has six ounces of steel added to it to ensure compliance with the Undetectable Firearms Act. In light of that, the gun remains remarkably easy to make with a standard 3D printer, which is a small piece of very inexpensive hardware.

3D printers once were prohibitively expensive but are becoming more available to average consumers. Basic models can be obtained for less than $2,000. MakerBot.com markets models for basic developers that range from just over $1,700 to around $2,800. Higher-end printers are projected to be easily available for average consumers within just a few years.

Featured in the documentary “Click, Print, Gun”, Wilson has been named one of the “15 Most Dangerous People in the World” by Wired magazine. Wilson proclaims himself a “crypto-anarchist” and advocates the availability of his untraceable gun design “to prove a point”.

“Gun control for us is a fantasy,” Wilson claims.

He promises to upload a freely-available design for printing his prototype in the near future.

Telegraph journalist Willard Foxton recently declared, “If you can 3D print a gun at home, you’re welcome to shoot me with it.”

Wilson has not gone unnoticed in his anarchistic plans to distribute his untraceable gun design. Stratsys, the maker of the original 3D printer Wilson was using to achieve his goal, repossessed the printer Wilson had acquired from the company. Congressman Steve Israel is working to expand provisions in the Undetectable Firearms Act to prevent Wilson’s furtherance of his objective.