With the rise of 3D printers, we've seen a ton of things get made: toys, computer parts, jewelry and even vehicles. It's certainly fun and all, but the increasingly worrisome concern with this technology is that it could be used to make full-on weapons.
And it already has. These 3D printers have been able to print plastic parts that can be assembled into a gun, but usually these weapons can only hold up for a few shots before they begin to break apart. And they look like toys:
Even before their creation, these weapons were already facing legal problems thanks to the Undetectable Firearms Act of 1988, which prohibits people from making guns from materials that can't be detected by metal detectors. Now, the engineering firm Solid Concepts has pieced together a legit metal gun, that looks essentially like the real thing—but more frightening, though, is that they say it performs just as well, too. The project coordinator at the firm fired 50 rounds from the gun to show its durability, and he says he plans to fire 500 more rounds in another demo. A good thing, more manufacturers at least, is that this means that one day 3D printed technology can come in handy when a gun owner's gun fails: they can easily order a part from a shop and pick it up that same day and be back to happy shootin' in no time.
“When we decided to go ahead and make this gun, we weren’t trying to figure out a cheaper, easier, better way to make a gun – that wasn’t the point at all," says Phillip Conner, a direct metal laser sintering manager at Solid Concepts. "What we were trying to do was dispel the commonly held notion that DMLS parts are not strong enough or accurate enough for real-world applications.”
Solid Concepts says that the process of building the gun is complicated, and it would be extremely difficult for just any public person to be able to replicate what they did. But, as all things with technology, the process will only get easier as time goes on.
[via The Independent]