INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY: 3DPrinting V’s Government? >

Maker Faire 2012 in New York last weekend was a great place to see, first hand, the products and processes behind a very promising technology that’s been receiving so much attention lately, and rightfully so. It’s clear to many that 3DPrinting isn’t merely a passing fad, but perhaps an evolutionary step in the field of manufacturing, if not revolutionary, and that has some people very nervous.

3DPrinting has the potential to shake up the consumer landscape as we know it.

Not today, not tomorrow, but down the line, home printing machines like those of RepRap, and Makerbot,  are only going to get more advanced and accessible. There will come a time when home users will be able to print everyday objects from home.

That’s an awesome thing, and perhaps scary to some.

3D Fan

3DPrinting has now captured headlines for just being itself – what it can do now, what it will do in the future – but just as many headlines are now being captured by 3DPrinting’s recent darker application’s, such as the hobbiest project to create a home 3DPrintable gun  by Defense Distributed.

“The Defense Distributed’s goal isn’t really about personal armament, it’s more the liberation of information,” they suggest in a video promoting Wiki Weapon. “It’s about living in a world where you just download for the thing you want to make in this life. As the printing press kind of revolutionised literacy, 3DPrinting is in its moment.”

Politics being what they are, you have to wonder if 3DPrinting will ultimately fulfill its potential of shaking up the industry and revolutionizing big industry, or if big industry, along with the government, will weigh the technology down with rules, regulations, and a ton of red tape. As points out, it’s only a matter of time before the lobbying for laws and restrictions begins.

“They put fear into people’s heads. These devices could be used by terrorists in malicious ways. Criminals could print guns and other weapons with them. Kids could make all manner of things they shouldn’t with them. Inevitably, someone does create something evil with one of these devices. Governments everywhere fall in line and enact laws heavily restricting their use. You now need a license to own one, and legally they must have restrictions on them that only allow them to print designs approved by the government…” –

Maker Faire 2012 showed some wonderful applications of this budding new technology – it would be shame if all the things we saw and the potential that exists were ultimately hamstrung by corporations and governments.’

Adapted From:


3DPrinted Gun Pt4: What Now? >

Click the image to view the full Stratasys letter to Defense Distributed

In a now ongoing saga Defense Distributed, a group of pro-gun lobbyists with the idea to 3DPrint a live firearm, has had its 3DPrinter seized by the machine’s manufacturer Stratasys.

Comments on the Wiki Weapons story so far have condemned the notion of a 3DPrinted gun – one that would enable anyone, anywhere, to manufacture their own weapon – with negative feedback, and now congratulatory remarks applauding Stratasys. Stratasys informed of their official line on the episode:

“Stratasys reserves the right to reject an order. Members of Defense Distributed, like any U.S. citizens, are able to follow the well-established federal and state regulations to manufacture, distribute or procure a firearm in [the U.S.A.].”

Matter resolved? Responsible company stepping in and doing the safe, legal and proper deed, it could perhaps be concluded as such. But, for example, a 3DPrinting professional visiting a school in South London, U.K., to show students 3DPrinting asked them what they could imagine printing for themselves… a student replied:


Whilst some students may be intrigued by innovative cutlery design, and schoolboy bravado regarding an interest in weapons/ fast cars/ protein suppliments, we will inevitably face the forthcoming legislative backlash regarding the concern that if anyone can download a file to manufacture a weapon, and the technology continues to progress, ‘press to print products’ will degrade into a home 3DPrinting black market.

How to stop 3DPrinted home weaponary proliferation? Restricting C.A.D. files of weapons from appearing online seems to obvious and popular suggestion – although this simply leads to the difficultly in policing the internet.

The limitations of most available 3DPrinters, materials and processes, mean an readily accessible 3DPrinted threat to humanity is certainly not here yet: but as the inevitability of the wave of concern now seems set, so does the non-rhetorical that 3DPrint makers, bloggers and journalists need to pose to their audience:


“What should we do about this?”


3DPrinted Gun Pt1: Control Debate >
3DPrinted Gun Pt2: Campaign Stopped >
3DPrinted Gun Pt3: Seized >
3DPrinted Gun Pt4: What Now? >

3DPrinting on the Battlefield > > >

Battlefield 3DPrinting – $2.8 million each and state-of-the-art:

‘For the first time, the Army is deploying special scientists and self-contained, mobile laboratories to the warzone capable of designing and producing problem-solving inventions for soldiers operating in remote outposts in Afghanistan.

The service’s Rapid Equipping Force, known as the REF, took a standard 20-foot shipping container and packed it with high-tech, prototyping machines, lab gear and manufacturing tools to create the Expeditionary Lab — Mobile.

Soldiers no longer have to wait to bring ideas back to scientists and engineers back in the states. The REF has brought the experts to the soldiers in combat.’

Read more:

3DPrinted Gun Pt2: Campaign Stopped >

Could the ability to manufacture weapons by download in your own home could be the first step into a 3DPrinted black market?

Indiegogo has now suspended Defense Distributed‘s  Wiki Weapon Project to develop open source blueprints for a gun that can be made with a 3DPrinter.

 Defense Distributed had raised $1,708 of its $20,000 goal, and switched to accepting Bitcoin donations following the campaign’s shuttering.

According to the Indiegogo campaign, accessible now only through Google cache:

‘The WikiWep project is to produce a CAD file for distribution and sharing across the internet. This CAD file will be a schematic for a modest, 3D printable plastic firearm. In a world where 3D printing becomes more ubiquitous and economical, defense systems and opposition to tyranny may be but a click away… Let’s pull the world toward this future together.’

Defense Distributed isn’t the first to consider using a 3DPrinter to break into the arms market: Betabeat reported on a gun forum poster who claimed to have built the world’s first functioning 3DPrinted firearm.

Indiegogo however simply listing “unusual account activity” as the reason for taking the page offline...