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Full Gun Has Now Been 3D-Printed for the First Time


You no longer need to visit a gun show to get a gun quickly and easily—soon, you’ll be able to 3D printed a full gun right in your own living room. Defense Distributed, the upstart organization behind the plastic high-capacity magazines created in response to Democratic gun control proposals, has designed a plastic gun that has all of its parts 3D printed. Extreme Tech:

The gun is called “the Liberator” (Defense Distributed is located in Texas, after all), and every single part is 3D-printed. The Liberator still has some more testing to go through, but once that has been completed, DD will release the CAD files into the wilds of the internet, onto its blueprints archive, Using Stratasys’ Dimension SST 3D printer, DD printed all 16 parts of the Liberator. The gun uses interchangeable barrels in order to allow the wielder to choose different caliber bullets.

Well, almost all of its parts are printed. The Liberator still requires a metal nail for the pin and Defense Distributed has opted to put a hunk of metal into the gun so that a metal detector would pick it up. But the metal isn’t necessary for the gun to work:

Considering the gun works and wouldn’t be taken seriously at a glance because it looks like something a kid would make in elementary school art class, having a bit of metal inside it is certainly a good decision. However, since the plans will be made available on the blueprints archive, nothing is going to stop some ne’er-do-wells out there from printing the Liberator without the detectable metal bits. Those ne’er-do-wells will still need real bullets, at least, but the lack of requiring a license — and the gun’s lack of a serial number — are unsettling thoughts.

The arrival of 3D printed guns are an important milestone in the gun control debate in the United States, but they’re really just the tip of the iceberg. 3D printing looks to be a massively disruptive technology, with potential applications in medicine being one of the most important fronts to watch. Interesting times, indeed.

We leave you with a somewhat ominous yet ultimately bracing video from the Defense Distributed guys to ponder this Saturday morning. Discuss in the comments.

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[Photo of the Liberator by Michael Thad Carter for Click through to see more photos]

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  • OldeSchoolLiberal

    FP-45 Liberator was a WWII single shot pistol intended to be dropped to resistance fighters in occupied Europe.

  • qet

    His last words–“a revolution means a revolution”–echo Robespierre’s 1793 admonition to the National Assembly: “Citizens, did you want a revolution, without a revolution?” So today is 1789. 1793 is not far off. That’s my takeaway.

  • george999

    Wow, we can now use automated equipment to make zip guns. Guys,
    shotguns can be made from a pipe. Crude guns have been made in
    prisons. There’s a reason criminals outside of prisons don’t use zip
    guns. They don’t need to. No one needs to use a crappy plastic gun.
    Nowhere in any of the articles does it say whether the barrel has
    rifling or whether it can even hold up to more than one shot. Until
    expensive factory style additive manufacturing equipment is available
    for home users, 3D printing is like model rocketry, a hobby. It only
    does plastic. Until it can print metal and electronics this really
    means nothing.

    • Damir Marusic

      I don’t believe it can hold more than one shot, no. And you’re right about the current generation of home 3D printing not being quite there yet for serious disruption. It’s interesting, though, how quickly we’ve already gotten this far, isn’t it?

      • george999

        I completely agree that serious 3D printing such as additive manufacturing is very important. However the home hobbyist version is grossly over-hyped since it does nothing but plastic. The limitation of only plastic makes it almost useless in any serious sense. It’s not just the current generation as in only a generation away. It needs metal and electronics and that is still way too expensive. The near future impact is not in home printing but in changing small factory manufacturing.

      • Jim Luebke

        3D printing has been around for a little over 20 years. 20 years is an interesting number because it’s the time it takes for a patent to expire.

        Coincidence? Not at all. The current boom in 3D printing is a direct result of the expiration of the original patents on additive manufacturing.

        It’s an interesting data point for politicians who think that the duration of intellectual property ownership by the original creator should be “infinity minus a day”, to encourage creativity and economic growth.

  • Nick Bidler

    On one hand, getting ‘mostly inoffensive but weirdly off-putting anarchist’ vibes from video. On other hand, I am all about being able to synthesize my own everything.

  • Lorenz Gude

    I still believe those socialists over in Vermont have the best gun law in the US if it still survives from the era of common sense:- ‘not for criminal purposes’.

  • circleglider

    All gun control is based upon the same fantasy: it is possible to control and eventually reduce the supply of guns in civilian hands, possibly all the way to zero.

    Guns aren’t consumable items like drugs. They’re incredibly simple and durable. This demonstration “printable” gun is designed to once again emphasize that it is foolish to try to control something that is uncontrollable.

    Fordham law professor Nicholas Johnson has formalized this dilemma in Supply Restrictions at the Margins of Heller and the Abortion Analogue: Stenberg Principles, Assault Weapons, and the Attitudinalist Critique.

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