3D printers are rapidly evolving into creation tools for anything from jewelry to blood cells.
Ever more affordable, 3D printers can now be found and purchased online for as little as $1000, meaning it won’t be long before many households have them as common appliances.
Meanwhile, designs for the printers are easily found online and can be manipulated to create anything a person could dream of, from spare parts to new shoes, with no specific knowledge of mechanics or engineering necessary. So far, so good, then, but can 3D printing go too far?
Take the case of the home-printed semi-automatic weapon, created by engineer Michael Guslick this week, just after the tragic Colorado shooting incident in Aurora which claimed 12 lives.
Guslick first announced his achievement on an Internet forum, and said in a later interview with the New York Daily News that the process of printing it “wasn’t that difficult.”
For anyone with any doubts, rest assured, it works. The firearm used a printed reinforced AR-15 lower receiver and successfully fired over 200 rounds.
“To the best of my knowledge, this is the world's first 3D printed firearm to actually be tested,” he wrote.
“It was extremely large and ungainly, but it worked,” he said, adding that the “barrier to entry is certainly being lowered.” Templates like the one Guslick used can be easily accessed online, and anyone with even just basic technological knowledge could probably do what Guslick did, which begs the question; never mind gun control, do we actually need 3-D printer control?
The destructive possibilities of 3D printers in the wrong hands are almost entirely overlooked by mainstream media, and that doesn’t just apply to 3D firearms. The reality is that, in the wrong hands, 3D devices are as capable of destroying things as they are at creating them.
Take another example of Glasgow University chemist Lee Cronin, who recently found a way “to turn a 3D printer into a universal chemistry set.” When built, Cronin’s “chemputer” will be able to produce illicit drugs.
When heroin and semi-automatic weapons can be produced at home with a tap of the print button, how can we ensure the safety of our communities? Will those with 3D printers be required to register like gun users? Should there be legislation barring or tracking the distribution of blueprints for potentially dangerous items?
Machines are as productive or destructive as the individual that interfaces with it. The majority of 3D printer owners will produce things that are completely innocuous and non-threatening, but like any other potentially lethal device, we must have a way of tracking what is being produced and by whom....don’t you think?
This of course is a tough situation as faith is not based on the scientific method - it IS in all it's entirety, or it is not and all is lost.... That's tough in today's information society as you are constantly tested and it's hard to "have your own facts" as you are exposed to false facts in everyday life - recently that has resulted in the conservatives attacking science itself... THIS situation is not to be trifled with as it has caused the erosion of so many years of science knowledge and resulted in the polarized politics we "enjoy" today...
I don't really have much of a solution but to break the assault on reason and fight back - which will go directly against many Churches. Perhaps that is what you are left with - let's take off the gloves as the opposition want's us back in the dark ages - and believes we are the greatest nation due to God and fantasies, not science, fact and creating a competitive edge over our competitors by reinvesting in our schools and making education affordable and effective at helping us compete in a world economy.
Actually if you look at the Beeman history page http://www.beeman.com/history.htm you can see that air guns have been around since the 1500's - some of which were .50" caliber.
I find it a bit amusing that people cling to gun rights against a power with nuclear bombs and such - claiming the 2nd Amendment. I understand the paranoia perhaps, but it is a bit ridiculous, and the disparity between Army's and the "common" man are just going to get worse - as with UAV's...
I also don't quite understand how this is a gun as it is not complete - can you say a grenade was printed because a printed casing was stuffed with explosives?
I am concerned about this, but unfortunately as mentioned before I don't think we can limit the devices, but perhaps the individuals - although that involves some pretty scary situations although with cell phones, GPS and biometric integrations who knows what will happen...
"With the assault on the church and faith"
I actually see the reverse happening which worries me greatly. To use one's religious faith to teach kids that the Earth is 5000 years old for example is simply an assault on science.
I also do not think religious dogma is needed to teach kids right and wrong. Humans have a predilection towards morality and this can be easily explained through the theory of evolution (it is in our long term interest as a species to behave in a moral way).
In any case, I do not mind people having and indeed preaching their faith, just do not call it science...
Steve, I might suggest that we return to the basics: morality, right and wrong, having consequences for our actions, all the things that my dad's generation grew up with (and tried to pass on to me). With the assault on the church and faith, the pushing of moral relativism we can't expect that laws or common sense will prevail. The answer isn't more laws or bigger government, it is with teaching and training our kids (and maybe ourselves) responsibility and a sense of right and wrong. Then and only then we might have a chance. There will always be crazy or just plain bad people but that should be the exception instead of the rule.
That's an oxymoron :-)
I never understood why do people with faith try to legitimise their faith through science when all scientific evidence is stacked against them? Call it blind faith and leave science out of it, I say.
"We need a social revolution" is a pretty general statement... can you be more specific? We need to turn insurance companies into nonprofits, charge a fee to make a stock transaction, provide free preventive health care for everyone, outlaw the teaching of "creation 'science'", draft qualified people into public offices (and disqualify them if they actually want the job), now THOSE are revolutionary ideas I could get behind... but do you have any in mind for technology?
When I was a kid 40+ years ago, we made things that would get us put in jail today. Zinc-sulfer-fueled rockets that if pointed at a house instead of into the air would go through a wall, home-made fireworks and explosives (a friend made a gram or so of nitroglycerine, and even we thought he was crazy), someone losing fingers... Now fast-forward another 40 years.
You *can't* control the technologies that we are unleashing. Never mind printing an illegal drug, consider what happens when anyone can print a virus. Pandora's box is already open, and it's not going to get closed. Now, how do we deal with it? Totalitarian states that control everything? Lessez-faire states that don't, and hope for the best? A return to a (nonexistent) more-genteel past? And how do you do it when technology moves at light speed, and politics moves at continental drift speed? For now, we just have to try to stay ahead of the curve creating the antibodies for the ills that technology is creating... but if anyone has a better answer, please let us all know!
It has been easy to build a quite lethal air-gun for at least 45 years, which is how long ago I built one. Not an automatic, of course, but made with parts from a hardware store that are still available today, for about the same price. The really specialized tools are a drill and a tap. With a 3D printer it should be possible to make a fully automatic one, about 80 caliber and firing 30 rounds a minute. Not much by military standards, and the dangerous range is only about a hundred feet.
But if you are concerned about dangerous things, just look up what they teach Marines in combat training. One hint: it is not about tea-time manners. And then after 3 or 4 years they send these folks back into society, and some fit in just fine, but some are damaged goods who don't fit so very fine. So how are they going to remove that training, which, by the way, is a lot more deadly than many legal firearms. And it gets worse, if you look at the special forces, and some of those other teams that we seldom hear about.
But the big thing that we need to be concerned about now is more subtle and much more dangerous. We are seeing a whole generation being trained to never concentrate and to never focus their attention on anything. People like that are ripe to be enslaved because they won't be able to focus long enough to realize that something has gone wrong. Think about it: As engineers, we know that to identify a problem and solve that problem requires concentration and focus. Those are the most fundamental things, even before our knowledge and insight. If we can't concentrate, we can't find a solution. Right?
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