3D Printing Guns

NYTimes article - behind a pay wall:

Notable quotes:

I rarely hang out in GD,but assume this OP would belong here. I’m not even sure where a debate on this should head - I am just trying to envision some rebel base like it was out of a movie, where a ragged set of fighters, with access to a pieced-together set of hardware, printing out disposable 1-shots and, coupled with swarming drones also built on the cheap, having the ability to influence power in local and perhaps broader ways.

Maybe the debate would be: how likely is a vision like this to play out, and on what scale, ie local eruptions in specific geographies or chained into something bigger?

Guns, Drugs and 3D printers- Straight Dope Message Board

Ah, thanks!

I’m no expert in 3D printing, but from what I have read on the subject the printers aren’t capable yet. The problem isn’t making the gun in the right shape, but rather producing out of a material that will allow the powerful forces produced by a cartridge. The material is not strong enough to be used in the chamber of a weapon. Of course with technology getting better everyday I am sure that any limitations will be overcome in a matter of time. But, we have the technology now to prevent color copiers and printers from printing copies of money, surely a feature could be designed into these printers to keep them from making a gun. That would be the logical thing to do.

My reading on this has convinced me that:

  1. Despite press headlines implying otherwise, being able to print a “component” is nothing like being able to print a gun.
  2. 3D printing technology is nowhere near being able to print a gun.
  3. Creating a AR lower receiver is pretty trivial.
  4. Creating a functional firearm is pretty trivial, especially if you only need it to fire once.

Conclusion: it’s all a tempest in a teapot.

Then you install a new firmware that doesn’t have that limitation and you’re off to the races. This would become available on the internet almost immediately.

You do realize that there are bad people in this world who WILL find a way to circumvent any measures put into place to secure something. Doesn’t matter if it’s guns or printers. Your logic is that seems to be that if it isn’t possible to counter every single conceivable misuse of an item than that item should not be available to the general public. By your logic we need to institute an immediate ban an any kind of pain relieving drug, any type of cold medicine, cars, computers, knives, baseball bats, etc…

I fail to see how depriving a law abiding citizen of a right to own something just because there is a possibility that someone could misuse that item is a reasonable thing to do. Instead why don’t we make the penalty so incredibly severe that anyone caught modifying or illegally using something would think twice. Still won’t stop them, but there will be Hell to pay if your caught. However then we will hear the left start whining how unfair the system is.

Hm? Oh, no, I wasn’t mentioning that as a reason to make 3D printers illegal or anything crazy like that. As far as I’m concerned the Internet’s facility for consistently defying censoring authorities is a good thing. :stuck_out_tongue:

It seems pretty inevitable to me. The technology is already here. It needs some refinement, better materials, and for the price to go down a bit, but unlike currency, which is very specific and needs to have very high fidelity to be useful, there’s no way to create an algorithm to prevent creating certain classes of objects that isn’t ridiculously easy to circumvent.

My apologies if I misunderstood. Been a very long night.

That’s my concern. Both the continued attempts - and the attempts to control something so distributed.

What I love about this 3D printing of guns is that eventually it’s going to be a case of the gun manufacturers (through their puppet, the NRA) siding with the gun control advocates against the gun owners to restrict the availability of firearms to regular folks. Oh, the prevarications, obfuscations and the LIES we will hear from the NRA as they argue against 3D gun printing technology … and they’ll be lying right to their base. What fun it will be to see if the NRA base simply accept the restrictions because they’re advocated by the makers of their sacred fetish objects, or if there is some sort of rebellion. I am SO looking gorward to this debate!

I wonder if 3D printing technology could be extended to a computer running a milling machine.


Just some of many. The whole 3D printing of guns paranoia is foolish. In another thread I wrote about a guy I personally know who CNC milled an AR-15 lower receiver from a solid block of aluminum. He even anodized it himself at home. Real deal, real metal.

The capability to make firearms at home ALREADY EXISTS. Metal guns, made to blueprint tolerances. People were already doing it, long before the 2012 “on noes, 3D printed guns!” scare.

Go to cnczone forums to learn more about home sized CNC.

Here is the google search result for “cnc ar 15.”

I think we are decades from 3D printing being able to produce any sort of high-strength components. Just possibly the sintered-metal process will get there, but it’s not going to be a machine any more accessible, affordable or available than a big CNC machine.

You used to be able to buy model kits that turned out fully functional firearms - functional in the sense that they had the identical finished component sets and could be cycled, field-stripped and reassembled just like a real one. I built several in my teens, before they were outlawed. But even if they were to-the-millimeter accurate, they had nowhere near the strength to be fired.

The day a 3D printer can produce a claw hammer head that holds up alongside a $10 Home Depot hammer, we can worry about “printing guns.”

Thing is, you just need a machined barrel, and maybe the hammer and the rest of the gun could be printed. If you don’t need rifling some pretty ordinary steel tube might be sufficient. We’re a long way from printing an assault rifle with 30 round magazine right now, but it will happen some day, probably with a combination of milled and printed parts. At some point people will realize that a 3 axis mill is the same as a 3D printer using a different tool head.

(bolding mine)“It’s just a matter of time before” meaning “I don’t know what the fuck I’m talking about”, of course.

Agree. I can’t help but think of the precision milling machines and lathes my friends have and compare that to the village in Pakistan who cobble together AK-47’s like shoes.

You can already make a gun in your basement. The technology isn’t secret. Guns have been made at home for hundreds of years.

Of course someday we’ll have printers that can fabricate a working AK-47 from metal bars. That someday is decades away. And what do the the people who are pissing their pants about the prospect expect us to do about it? Make it illegal to post specifications to print a firearm? You don’t need to make it illegal today, because it’s not possible. And when it becomes possible there’s not much point in making it illegal, because the law will be unenforceable.

Of greater interest, actually, are chemical printers or chemputers. Same thing on a molecular level. They can be used to make prescription pharmaceuticals, which would drive down the price, which is a good thing, I guess.

Of course, a machine that can make prescription pharmaceuticals can also make illegal recreational drugs, in unlimited and uncontrollable quantity.

And a machine that can make drugs can also make explosives and chemical weapons, in unlimited and uncontrollable quantity.

Why not? They’re all just chemical substances. All you need is the machine, the software, and the feedstock chemicals to which any HS chem teacher has access.

In fact, my brother the engineer believes that illegal uses will drive the “early adoption” of such technology – i.e., the vast market for illegal uses will make the machines cheap and abundant, opening the way for more legitimate uses. Assuming industrial civilization survives to that point.