Are 3D Printers Really Being Used To Make Guns?

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3D printers have revolutionized the world. From Amazon talking about installing them on trucks to save time and money to the charity Enabling The Future using 3D printers to create affordable, awesome prosthetic hands there seems to be very little this technology can’t do. From sex toys to building homes 3D printers can make anything.

Even guns?

Ghost Gunner And Legal Loopholes

As most people know all manufactured firearms are required to have a serial number. Filing off those serial numbers is a crime, as is possession of a weapon that has been modified in such a way. A weapon that’s manufactured without the number in the first place is referred to as a ghost gun, and they are illegal to sell.

You can make them at home for your own personal use, though. That’s why Defense Distributed has been offering products like the Ghost Gunner, which is a $1,200 device that will spit out an aluminum lower receiver for an AR-15 rifle. For those who don’t know anything about guns this is the central pieces that the stock, barrel, and magazine all connect to. Without it your gun is just a collection of harmless accessories.


The Ghost Gunner, a device allowing people to assemble a working assault rifle at home.

Dystopian Use of a Great Technology?

The idea that anyone with some extra cash can buy a mechanism to 3D print weapons that can’t be traced to a manufacturer has been played up as a spook story by a lot of people but there’s no denying that this use of 3D printing has frightening, violent overtones.

There have been laws in place dealing with those who machine and manufacture their own guns for years. The only difference between a machinist who mills the parts for a rifle at home and a 3D printed ghost gun is that the former is done by a person and the latter is done by a machine; the same laws still apply equally to both.

The latter can just be done quickly, and with no actual training. This may result in the laws being broadened or re-examined, but it isn’t the only concern brought by this new ability to produce weapons on demand.

Revolutionary Changes to War?

Being able to take 3D printers to a warzone promises a radical shake-up of combat and the defense industry. What happens when anyone can simply make a gun anywhere?

Defense contractors want to sell you an item but also want to own the supply chain for 50 years. But now you’ll have soldiers in an austere outpost in somewhere like Afghanistan who can pull down the software for a spare part, tweak the design and print it out.Peter Singer, expert in future warfare at the New America Foundation

3D printing was invented in the 1980s and a lot of the patents on the orginal technology are expiring, opening the way for competition and revolutionizing the arms industry.

It’s the first time in a very long time that there’s been such a radical shake up in industrial engineering. We’re not just improving things — we’re re-writing the rule book.Peter Singer
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Tom Sancelot
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Tom Sancelot is a French entrepreneur living in Canada.
Feeling the sex toy industry was bound to change with the growth of 3D printing technology, he launched in 2014. It's been a techy and sexy ride ever since.

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