3D printer company seizes its leased unit from the home of a man planning to print out a pistol

Defense Distributed is a collective that raised $20,000 in BitCoins to lease a 3D printer and develop and prototype a 3D printed pistol. Stratasys, the manufacturer of the printer, seized it from the home of Defense Distributed's Cody Wilson, after a heated email exchange in which the Stratasys counsel said that "It is the policy of Stratasys not to knowingly allow its printers to be used for illegal purposes. Therefore, please be advised that your lease of the Stratasys uPrint SE is cancelled at this time and Stratasys is making arrangements to pick up the printer."

Robert Beckhusen writes more in Wired:

“They came for it straight up,” Cody Wilson, director of Defense Distributed, the online collective that oversees the Wiki project, tells Danger Room. “I didn’t even have it out of the box.” Wilson, who is a second-year law student at the University of Texas at Austin, had leased the printer earlier in September after his group raised $20,000 online. As well as using the funds to build a pistol, the Wiki Weapon project aimed to eventually provide a platform for anyone to share 3-D weapons schematics online. Eventually, the group hoped, anyone could download the open source blueprints and build weapons at home.

Until Stratasys pulled the lease, the Wiki Weapon project intended to make a fully 3-D printed pistol for the first time, though it would likely be capable of only firing a single shot until the barrel melted. Still, that would go further than the partly plastic AR-15 rifle produced by blogger and gunsmith Michael Guslick. Also known as “Have Blue,” Guslick became an online sensation after he made a working rifle by printing a lower receiver and combining it with off-the-shelf metal parts.

But last Wednesday, less than a week after receiving the printer, Wilson received an e-mail from Stratasys: The company wanted its printer returned. Wilson wrote back, and said he believed using the printer to manufacture a firearm would not break federal laws regarding at-home weapons manufacturing. For one, the gun wouldn’t be for sale. Wilson added that he didn’t have a firearms manufacturers license.

Wilson disagrees about the illegality of his project.

3-D Printer Company Seizes Machine From Desktop Gunsmith


  1. So far as I know he’s correct – there’s no law against manufacturing one’s own firearms, so long as said firearms aren’t sold.  

    1.  IIRC you can’t legally manufacture any gun you would not be able to legally buy, under U.S. law. but that only comes into play if you are a “prohibited person” (banned from owning guns at all; criminal convicts and such), and/or are planning to build yourself a machine gun. i’m nitpicking, in other words.

    2. I would think that a liability lawyer could sue the printer company if something went wrong with the gun and the company knew what was being produced.

  2. The most surprising thing is that a Bitcoin-related project ever actually got this far off the ground.

    1. Serious: when an acquaintance of mine was preaching about bitcoins I thought is was an elaborate joke like the Church of Discordia. The madder he got made it funnier.

      1.  Hey, now…the Church of Discordia is a much less elaborate joke than the Catholic Church or the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

  3. It actually isn’t illegal to make your own firearms for personal use, without a manufacturer’s license, as long as the firearm doesn’t fall into one of the NFA regulated categories.

    They might have a case against Stratasys for breach of contract?

    1. The Wired article mentions some other legal nuance, like the fact that you can’t build an undetectable (plastic) gun of any kind for any purpose.  However, it sounds like Stratasys’ decision was made more in their PR department than their legal one.

      1. You could easily fix that by leaving a spot to place a metal token in the handle halfway through manufacture so that it gets sealed inside.

        1. It was my understanding from reading about the first guy who printed a gun with a 3-D printer that the barrel needed to be metal otherwise you create a gun that has a one time use and greatly reduced accuracy.

      2. A gun can’t be 100% plastic. “Plastic” Glocks still have metal slides and barrels. At the very least the barrel would have to be metal. So would the bullets.

        ETA – ah I guess they were going to try to make a plastic barrel. Good luck with that. I don’t think it would work well for even one shot.

        1. you are most likely correct, the plastics used by the 3d printers would not even come close to standing up to the ignition pressures in the chamber and barrel if the gun was fired. at the very least, for it to even be a one shot wonder, it would have to have some kind of metal or possibly ceramic barrel and chamber for it not to explode and become a plastic hand grenade. 

          with that said, the only part of a gun that is controlled is the firing mechanism, in AR-15’s and similar that is the lower receiver. In most pistols that is the slide itsself but not always the barrel/extractor etc. on revolvers, i believe the only controlled portion is the frame of the gun and not the cylinder.. so technically if they were to find a way to print a revolver with a strong enough barrel to withstand the discharge, it would be totally legit to use the cylinder off of a production gun which might give the printed weapon a chance of putting lead downrange instead of just going kaboom in the shooter’s hand.

          1. In pistols it’s the frame not the slide that is the firearm under US law.  The general rule of thumb is it’s the part the holds the firing mechanism, but that’s not always the case. In the FAL & HK G3 series rifles rifles it’s the upper receiver that is the firearm, not the lower.  On post-1934 (or 1968, I forget which) firearms in the US it’s easy to figure out as it’ll be the part with the serial number _and_ the manufacturer’s info on it. 

            It is perfectly legal under federal law in the US, and under state laws in Texas, to build yourself a pistol, rifle, or shotgun (basically anything but a machinegun, although you have to pay a federal $200 tax first before building suppressors, short barreled rifles or shotguns, AOWs, or Destructive Devices).  You can even sell it eventually (or give it as a gift), you just can’t make them to sell for a profit.  For that you need to have paid a federal Special Occupancy Tax, I think it’s $1000 a year, might be more, it’s been a while since I looked it up.  As a rule of thumb it is advisable not to sell any gun you make just because why stick your hand in the hornets nest if you don’t have too, right?  Remember, the ATF used to follow people at gun shows, and when they bought a gun for say $100, come up and offer them $120 for it, and if they accepted arrest them for selling guns without a Federal Firearms License because they’d made a profit by selling guns, and you need a FFL for that.  

    1. “Why does it say cartridge jam when there is no cartridge jam?  I swear to God, one of these days, I just kick this piece of shit out the window.”
      “You and me both, man.  That thing’s lucky I’m not armed.  OH WAIT!”

  4. First post is wrong.  Homemade firearms can’t be made for the purpose of re-selling.  If you make a firearm at home and get tired of it 10 years later, it’s almost certainly legal to sell since the passage of time is good enough proof that re-selling was not your intent when you made the firearm.

    Re-sell a day after you make the gun == intent to sell == illegal.

    Now, where exactly the line is drawn between a day and a decade, when the sale becomes legal, is something the homebuilt hobby likes to argue about.  General rule of thumb – don’t even think of selling in less than a year.

    A wrong comment on an unrelated blog is no big deal but the story indicates something much worse – a reporter and possibly a company who don’t understand the definition of “any other weapon” under federal law.

    AOWs are a world unto themselves and I’m busy packing for a trip so I’ll leave it to later commenters to point out how the rationale described in the story is just screwed up from beginning to end.

    Lordy, this stuff is getting frustrating.  Somebody print a whole gun, already.

    1. A wrong comment on an unrelated blog is no big deal but the story indicates something much worse – a reporter and possibly a company who don’t understand the definition of “any other weapon” under federal law.

      Sounds like you’re missing a ramrod. Perhaps it’s stuck somewhere.

  5. It’s $150 for three years of the Class 7 manufacturer FFL to make everything legal, plus fingerprinting and a background check and a burglar alarm and safe (the latter two of which you should have anyways if you’re having guns).

    They probably weren’t breaking the law, but it’s not entirely clear (pistols are a different case than rifles or shotguns, whose manufacture at home for individual non-transfer-ever use is clearly legal).  Just paying the $150 and getting all the paperwork in seems like it is just wiser all around.

    1.  No, pistols are not treated differently than rifles and shotguns, save for a higher age requirement for purchase. As mentioned earlier, just about the only thing it might have run afoul of was the no-metal rule, but as also mentioned that can be easily solved.

      1. I have a 1990 vintage ATF Red Book indicating otherwise, however perusing the current regs indicates that apparently something changed and individual handgun manufacture for individual use is handled the same as rifle and shotgun.  So, I was right, but am not now.  Sometimes regulations do relax in the real world, as strange as that seems….

  6. Meh.  This is probably a bad idea anyway.  Guns are expensive, but I look at that as a barrier to keep the idiots away.  Those things can be dangerous if you do not know what you are doing.  You tend to think harder about such things when the entry price is at least $400 or so.  They also talked about printing the entire thing (I guess that includes the barrel).  Another profoundly stupid idea — barrel pressures are measured in the thousands of PSI (50,000 PSI is not uncommon for a rifle).  I would, quite simply, be afraid to pull the trigger on the beast until at least a few thousand people had put a few hundred rounds each to prove the safety of the design.

    1. You ever hear of a Saturday Night Special? You can get a real gun for cheaper than a paintball one. Ok it might blow up in your hand, have the accuracy of a paper football, or not last three clips but still.

      1. I wish that there were safety rules for firearms production.  Manufacturer must manufacture a production-sized lot.  Testing agency selects random samples from the lot and tests them to defined standard a little beyond what a person could do in terms of number of rounds, and neglects basic maintenance for a defined period that’s far longer than what’s industry recommended.  They should also have a heuristic for accuracy and a drift in that accuracy over time.  Weapon must pass tests to be sold, and future batches will see, at random, further sample testing to ensure that the manufacturer hasn’t reduced quality.

        Yes, this would be expensive.  But, it would also reduce the number of deadly-to-the-operator weapons and might help reduce the proliferation of use-and-lose weapons for nefarious purposes.  It would also ensure that law-abiding firearms owners would have a reasonable chance of hitting their intended target rather than having a round miss and hit a bystander.

        1. I didn’t know there aren’t safety rules, interesting.  I work for a company that manufactures home entertainment electronics.  We have to get UL safety approval and the equivalent in every country we sell in.  It involves such things as creating abnormal shorts in the electronics, operating while blocking ventilation holes, flammability tests, applying surge voltages and all manner of product abuse to ensure that it is safe, even when used in extremely brutal ways.  Yes, it’s expensive, but it’s part of doing business.
          And there aren’t equivalent safety requirements for products designed to explosively propel a mass at hyper-sonic velocities?  Wow. 

      2. Didn’t the guy who created the gun that was honored with the name, “Saturday Night Special” get successfully sued into oblivion in the late 90s due to his firearm design? Sadly, there were others who took his place.

        1. I’m not sure, but that sounds entirely possible and plausible. On the other hand I’m sure after the introduction of the first gun there’s always been cheap knockoffs for the murderer on a budget.

  7. Who cares if it’s legal or illegal. It’s just a bad idea to give certain people access to weapons very easy. Can you see a company with a 3D printer and a upset employee. Better yet a gang organization printing guys and giving them to every member because it only cost $5 per gun. 

    1.  gangs already have access to all the guns they can steal, for no more than the price of stealing them. similarly, disgruntled employees (or disgruntled people in general) can already get a hold of weapons of most any kind; if they can’t legally get guns, then they can illegally get guns, or any other kind of weaponry.

      seriously, the firearms genie is out of the bottle already. has been for centuries. can open, worms everywhere, toothpaste no longer in tube, cat has escaped the collapsible containment unit. 3D printer companies thinking they can reverse that fact are wrong.

      1.  If firearms owners are responsible and secure their weapons when they aren’t in custody of them then theft would be much less of a problem.  I can vouch for this- my brother’s house was broken into while he was at work on a Monday after he’d gone shooting that weekend.  He left some of his pistols out of the safe because he hadn’t cleaned them and those weapons were the ones stolen.  While there was some other stuff stolen, everything else taken was opportunity, so it’s likely that whoever committed the robbery was principally after the pistols and knew that he had them.  Since he doesn’t have a garage I’d bet that someone saw him loading his truck for one of his trips and thus knew he had firearms, and probably kept tabs on his property until he slipped and didn’t secure them.

        I don’t care if you wear your firearm while in the house, while at home or on the property, or even generally while out in public.  When you’re not in custody of the weapon though, whether it be at home while you’re not, or while you’re asleep, or if it’s in the car while you’re inside of somewhere that doesn’t allow firearms, lock it up.  They make all different kinds of safes for houses, apartments, vehicles, whatever, so it should be pretty easy to secure your firearm.  Just do it.

        1. Most firearm theft isn’t from consumers, it’s directly from armed forces and train cars used to transport them.  Not that private firearms aren’t stolen, but one or two at a time can’t compare to a hundreds-at-once heist.

      2. Okay I can see your point but, how about kids? Some schools have 3D printers and the students are taught how to use them. 

        1. does it make you feel any better to know that knives and daggers can already be 3D printed? or that single-shot firearms (“zip guns”) are simplistic enough in their workings that clever high school students can already design such things by themselves, and build them out of plumbing supplies using home tools? (sure, a shotgun built from plumbing pipe likely won’t survive more than one shot, if that, so it’s “single shot” in more than one sense. but the same likely goes for a 3D-printed barrel, too.)

          moral: there is only one true weapon, and that is a sapient mind that’s set on doing harm. everything else is just tools.

          1. I built a plumbing pipe shotgun in high school.  Not at the school, but during that time frame.  Easy as heck to do, the only “hard” part was drilling the hole for the firing pin through the plug.  I shot it a few times, from a distance with string, just enough to be satisfied that it worked.  $5 or less in parts, a few minutes with a drill, and a little bit of time making the other parts, although you don’t even have to make a trigger you can just make a slam fire gun.  Didn’t BB have a article on an artist in New York that built zip guns to turn into the gun buy back programs to finance his work?  

    2. Getting a CNC mill and using it to make a gun is cheaper and easier than what this guy is trying to do (for the near future, anyway). Or if you’re really hard up you can make one using very basic tools and stuff you can find at any hardware store.  Guns are not all that hard to make.

      1. The point, it is whizzing high over your head.
        This group wasn’t going the $20K and 3D printer route because they really really REALLY wanted a plastic gun. They were doing a proof of concept design, to show that this can be done. Unlike CNC mills, 3D printers are continuing to drop in price at a very rapid pace. The range of materials they can handle is also expanding, albeit slower. It might be cheaper to make a gun with a CNC mill today; I’ll bet it won’t be in as little as 5 years. And by then, the 3D printer route will certainly be the simpler option.

        1. But there are many, many do-it-yourself CNC projects out there. They’re also not so expensive. I don’t understand why groups like this are trying to use 3D printers to make guns from an unsuitable material, when it appears 3D CNCs could makes guns from much harder stuff already. Am I missing something? The principle is very similar – designs would be entirely digital and could be exchanged in the same way. Whether you start from a block of steel or a reel of filament, you still need raw material.

          Oh, and a momentary reality check: Sigh. Guys like this are dangerous idiots. But inevitable. How sad.

        2. The point is that guns are ALREADY cheap and easy to make. They always have been. People in high security prisons have managed to throw one together. This guy might design a new method, but he isn’t changing anything. 

  8. This is inevitable. Though I’m not sure why you’d want to use a 3D printer instead of a CNC milling machine. I see no reason why you couldn’t build fully functional gun with one whereas I’d be weary of the plastics used in a 3D printer.

    1.  Probably someone feeling entitled to proving a point, maybe with the idea that later they’d be able to sell a metal barrel, chamber, and firing pin as a kit, and people could 3d-print the gun around those metal parts similar to how aluminum engines start out as steel or iron cylinder sleeves that have molten aluminum cast around them.

      On top of that there’s skill involved in using a CNC machine, even if one has a pre-existing design, and generally other hurdles like 3 phase power or a converter, plus the rather expensive cost of the mill itself (5 grand for a used bridgeport) and the tooling.  A 3d printer just melts pellets and squirts plastic like an inkjet printer, and could probably use pre-existing software plans without the operator needing to know how to do anything more that buy the right kind of pellets and to load the hopper.

    2.  For some reason, 3d printers are sexier than CNC mills. Sexier than lathes, sheet metal brakes, and metal casting.

      I think the idea of universal goop creating anything has an appeal to the common mind that simple metal shop know how can’t compete with.

      I think a toaster is at least as cool as a pistol, but then it won’t grab headlines.

      1. “I think a toaster is at least as cool as a pistol, but then it won’t grab headlines.”

        It would if you shot someone with one.

  9. you can indeed build your own guns with any decent CNC. or even with just a decent lathe. whole books have been written on how to; google “the home gunsmith”, for instance.

    after all, village blacksmiths were beating out blackpowder rifles with nothing but hand tools back in the 1600’s, and even earlier still. it’s not as if guns are the cutting edge of high tech, anymore.

  10. i think they are doing it wrong, if you wanna make a gun start with a cannon. modern guns have evolved a lot and their shape and function is based largely on the material of choice. if you want to make a new gun from plastic begin with a cannon. this will tell you the width the barrel must be for a given amount of powder. work your way up to a semi-automatic with rifling…you may also find by the time you make it there the plastic gun made this was works better than ones made to look like steel guns and you may even find a way to make them as effective, or close to.

  11. Maybe my European origin is preventing me from getting some critical point, but let me ask one question:

    given that weapons are by definition things used to kill people, why should any non-military and non-criminal person want to own or even build one? This also applies to making an effort for open sourcing purposefully lethal items. 

    1.  Because, sometimes, people need shooting, or even killing. Like when they’re threatening you with serious injury or death. Or threatening someone you love with the same. Or even some random stranger, if you’re the altruistic sort. Sometimes bad things happen to good people (i.e, those non-criminal people you’d rather see unarmed), and they need a means to defend themselves.

    2. Weapons are used to do more than kill people.

      They’re used to hunt.

      They’re used to deter when brandished or simply displayed.

      They’re used for target practice, which in-of-itself can be very entertaining.

      I’m not going to say that everyone hunts or brandishes or displays, or even that all hunting, brandishing, or displaying is legitimate.  Obviously one person may hunt to obtain food, while another may hunt for taxidermy purposes only.  Someone may display a firearm to avoid a conflict or a police officer may draw and brandish a weapon to force someone to stand down, or someone may brandish or display a weapon in the threat of violence for a criminal purpose.

      I do not expect to suffer home-invasion.  If I ever did though, or if my neighborhood started having incidences of it, I’d arm myself and I’d be ready to deal with it.  But, I live where I live because I think that the likelihood is so small as to not be worth considering.  If that changed then I’d have to re-evaluate.

      1. They’re used to hunt.

        You could get a lot of converts if hunters would distribute some of that tasty venison to more people.

    3. Except weaponry, by definition, as you put it, isn’t designed to kill people, but to kill things.  That’s where your arguement falls flat.  People don’t need weapons to kill people, it just gives them an advantage.  How many people do you know of that have fought bare-knuckled against a bear and lived though?

      The point is weapons don’t kill people, the people using them do.  You don’t put a gun on trial because the bullet that came out of it killed someone, you put the person that pulled the trigger on trial.

      Edit: Also, the whole concept they’re working with a single-shot gun. Needless to say, at MOST the person using such a weapon could kill one person, and even then the chances of that are relatively low. Even if he DOES manage to kill one person, then what? It’s not like he can fire it multiple times, so he’s screwed. Or what, is he gonna go into a fire-fight with his backup actual pistol? Why would he need a plastic one-shot gun then? The whole idea is flawed for the purpose of crime on most levels outside of maybe robbing a 7 Eleven.

      1.  Hey, they could 3D-print as many one-shot guns as they like, strap them all to a cool 3D-printed bandolier, and go on a rampage in a 3D cinema. The symmetry would be nice.

      2. The “things” that handguns are designed to kill at close range are people. Yes, you might carry one as a side arm to dispatch a wounded animal (a “thing”, I guess you call it) at close range, but then you don’t need a clip that holds 12 rounds for that, do you?

        As for the tired argument of people killing people, while it is true, the guns help. A lot. Since you can’t really regulate the presence of people in a society, you might consider regulating the availability of guns, and make it a little less easy for the people to kill each other in the “heat of battle.”

        [Edited to make it less preachy–made it worse.]

      3. The issue here is that this crappy one-shot gun would likely be undetectable to conventional security scanners.  Imagine eight guys on an airliner with them.  Or even just one guy in the crowd at a presidential reception, or for a candidate, or a visiting head of state.  Or imagine a murderer melting the gun into an indistinguishable pile of goo after the murder: no trace of the weapon, no record of a weapon purchase, no record of the bullet striation patterns it makes.

        Sadly, this would be a rather good weapon or choice for terrorists, assassins and murderers.

    4. self defense perhaps ? Knives are lethal instruments too. Are you sufficiently terrified of inanimate objects to want to ban knives, hatchets and ice picks too ?

        1. You’ve never lived in the UK, have you? There, cutlery for weaning babies on must by law carry the legend “not for sale to people under the age of 18” because there’s a flat, blunt “knife”. Teen parents are SoL. Knives also cannot be sold with macho names, like “Rambo knife” or “Combat knife”.

    5. We have firearms so that we can overthrow our government if need be.  Other uses are secondary.

      1. This is kind of a stupid argument. It might have made sense back when the average military rifle was comparable to the average civilian rifle. It makes zero sense now. The U.S. government is never going to be overthrown by rebel civilians using off-the-shelf guns. IEDs and fertilizer truck bombs would be a better bet.

        1. It’s not nearly as stupid an argument as “hunting” being the primary purpose of firearms in the United States.

          The legal basis of the constitutional right to arms is the 2nd amendment which has nothing to do with hunting, a secondary activity with firearms (especially now).

          Military rifles and civilian rifles do not differ in any militarily significant manner.  Both fire bullets at an adequate rate relatively accurately.  It would be more accurate is to say that civilians don’t have ready access to crew-served weaponry, high-grade explosives, armored vehicles, and military aircraft (or even aircraft at all for the most part).  
          Fighting the government would definitely be a costly proposition, but not impossible because … numbers; current military strength equals about one million; population equals about 310 million most of whom are armed or could be pretty quickly.  Also, lots of military will not shoot U.S. civilians in general revolt.

          Actual armed revolt would bring down the government pretty quickly because our government is not structurally set up to be in opposition to the people.

          1.  Hunting (and to a lesser extent, target shooting) is BIG business in the US. Way bigger than, say, home defense, definitely way bigger than government overthrow. Wander into a Gander Mountain sometime. Or any equivalent store near you.

            From a financial point of view, yes, hunting is the main reason.

            And from a motivational point of view: the 1994 report [sorry I can’t find anything more recent about gun ownership with a quick search] https://www.ncjrs.gov/txtfiles/165476 states: “The most common motivation for owning firearms was recreation.”

            And from a numbers point of view: that report says “44 million Americans owned 192 million firearms, 65 million of which were handguns.” – so about two thirds of the weapons are shotguns and rifles. Those are hunting weapons.

            It then goes on to add: “Forty-six percent possessed a gun primarily for protection against crime.” – the high number there probably being at least partly explained by their data point “Sixty-eight percent of handgun owners also possessed at least one rifle or shotgun.” – so while those 68% “possessed *a* gun primarily for protection”, they mainly had and used guns for recreational purposes.

            Another way to look at it, is what they get used for: guns are used defensively in between 0.1M and 2.5M cases per year (numbers vary wildly depending on sources). Most of these don’t even involve a shot fired, but let’s pretend they all fire a dozen shots. So that’s maybe 24M rounds/year used defensively, at an absolutely insane maximum. For comparison, the US military uses 70M rounds per year.

            While I can’t find any hard figures for US ammo sales in a quick search, it looks like the number of rounds sold each year is orders of magnitude above that. For ATK alone “Annual Sales of “Hunting and Sporting” ammunition alone total $750,000,000.”  That’s half its annual sales, and it makes 6.5Bn rounds per year.  …but all that includes international sales, too, which means I’m not comparing like with like, I’m afraid. Good numbers are hard to find :(

            Still: clearly not even in the same ballpark.

    6. In the US most guns are used for plinking, when they aren’t just gathering dust in a closet. I think despite the claims of owning guns for self-defense people buy guns for the same reason they buy large pickup trucks.

      Either way there are around 200 million guns in the US. And most of them aren’t subject to registration.  So really someone making a gun in their garage isn’t effecting the number very much.

    7. The one time I got mugged, there was simply not enough time to react between the time I realized that the person approaching me was acting oddly and the time I realized he had grabbed me and had a knife to my throat. If I had a gun, it would have simply meant that the mugger would have stolen a gun.

      I have a hard time imagining a real-world scenario, in which a gun would be used for self-defense.

      EDIT: On the other hand, there’s that Golden Dawn article a few links down.

    8.  Your question makes way too much sense. Please withdraw it, because nobody over here wants to think about guns that way.

      (I used to believe in gun control, but that stopped a long time ago because of the sheer numbers of them out there. The cat is indeed out of that bag. I haven’t as of yet been able to think of any better approach, but it’s undeniable that there are a lot of people getting killed by other people with guns over here tragically and unnecessarily…)

      1. Well, for a start I guess we could have a culture that doesn’t also glorify anything and everything about gun ownership.  Want to own guns?  Fine.  Want to be a stupid jackass about it and keep a loaded gun in your bedside table when you have small children around because you are afraid of someone breaking in even when you live in a super low-crime neighborhood in a small city with less than one shooting death per year? 

        I seriously wonder whether some people love their guns more than their children.

        1. “..you live in a super low-crime neighborhood in a small city with less than one shooting death per year?”
          One dead from shooting year, is ‘super low’??
          Wow, that’s amazing. For the whole of the UK it was 50 last year, 13 of which were teenagers. And nearly all were gang related from problem areas.

    9. Maybe it’s curiosity? Why not? I’m also European and I believe that general public should be allowed to do experiments like this as long as they do not keep full set of parts or assembled versions to (somewhat) reduce risk of this falling into wrong hands. Print-test-destroy, why not?

    10. A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

      Technically, the right to own guns was to protect non-military, non-criminal people from military and criminal people, who have all too often in history been the exact same people.  See: highwayman, brigand, brownshirt.

      Some of your fellow Europeans get it, and do it much better than we USians do: Swiss gun politics

  12. I really don’t blame the 3D printer company for wanting nothing to do with a terrible idea that could ending up hurting someone and landing them in legal hot water by association.  I hope they’ve rewritten their lease contract. Mind you, I’m sure someone else will come up with something even more dangerous and stupid to lease their printers for…

    1. it would be far easier for someone to just use it to print a knife/baseball bat/hammer/screwdriver/etc and kill someone with a tried and tested known to be potentially fatal device than go to all the trouble of figuring out how to make a printed gun lethal.. if hurting someone was their goal, i would bet money that printing a single shot gun that likely would just explode instead of hurl a projectile would NOT have been their first choice.

  13. At least Bruce Sterling could consider the long term implications, in his novella “Kiosk.” Fastforward to the 12 min. mark: http://www.starshipsofa.com/2010/01/13/aural-delights-no-116-bruce-sterling/

  14. Soooo is this more of a “morality” thing? Did they think it was immoral to make weapons with their printer, and used the possible (though seemingly erroneous) legal issues as an excuse to pull the lease? 

    1.  Probably more a PR thing — they probably don’t want to be the “our 3D printer was used to make a plastic gun that blew up in the idiot maker’s hand” company.  Can’t say I really blame them.

  15. to the people above – Hunting. Right, how could I ever forget that! And defense from bears, of course. Silly me, not to picture thousands of guys in their personal, isolated cabins in the wilderness, hoping to print their stuff before the ever-so-frequent grizzly bear comes by. 

    I find it slightly more imaginable the “brandish, threathen & defend” argument, however. Why trust professional police forces for your protection when it is so much more sensible to multiply the danger sources and let everyone print as many firearms as they can, after all. I guess kids, mentally unstable persons, extremists and terrorists (weren’t you the country obsessed with terrorism?) will find this idea highly sensible as well. And if you won’t feel very safe living close – possibly in the same home – to angry teens with unlimited firepower… you can always shoot them first after all. Sounds cool.

    Not to mention that a whole nation of people brandishing, threathening and defending would make for a great coreography to put on the Tubes.

    1.  You were right the first time. Your European origin is preventing you from getting some critical point.

      1. i didn’t use to think much about guns, back when i was growing up in Europe. gun control laws felt natural to me, then. my perspective’s changed a lot since i immigrated to the states; it’s a subject that actually does bear serious thought and discussion — and the answer is not necessarily or automatically to ban them all. mr/ms info’s knee-jerk reaction in that direction is much too simplistic to be taken seriously. all knee-jerk reactions are.

        there are dozens of millions of gun owners in the USA, and the vast, VAST majority of them are totally trustworthy people who do no harm with their weapons. that fact in itself is pretty powerful support for the right to keep arms.

    2. Just because Europe has eradicated its large wildlife doesn’t mean that the rest of the world has. We have coyote packs wandering into our condo complex, and mountain lions roaming through suburban back yards.

      1. I see. I REALLY didn’t get an important point.
        The hunting is to be done inside condo complexes! Now it’s all clear to me.

        [sits back and watches Trigger-happy kid Vs. Werecoyote VII – The Darwining]

        1. I live quite literally next to a cow pasture and forest.  There have been packs of coyotes, skunks, large snakes, as well as mountain lions showing up around here every so often.  Let’s not forget some of those snakes are rattlesnakes, or that this area of the country is known for having bears and alligators.  To assume one shouldn’t have a least a large knife if not a gun when going out into the swamps around here would just be stupidity. 

          You were the one saying that weapons are ONLY used to hurt people, we pointed out your obviously flawed arguement.

          1.  So do you go out and shoot the coyotes, mountain lions, skunks and snakes?  I grew up with all those things (except I’ve never seen a mountain lion) and have never come out worse for any encounter than maybe smelling bad for a while. It’s true that humans are encroaching more and more on mountain lion territory, but I don’t hike alone or at twilight – and I definitely am not planning to arm myself on the off-chance that I meet a cougar (or a mugger, for that matter).

          2. If something was gnawing at your arms or legs would you fight back, or would you just ask it to please stop?  People in general don’t go out looking to kill animals for no reason, but if there’s a good chance I’ll run into a wild, and possibly rabid, animal, I’d rather be packing something rather than nothing. 

            Now yes, if you don’t actually go out into areas that have such animals, then you generally have no need to arm yourself to defend against them, but if you are going out to such areas, be it for fishing and/or hunting to put food on a table or, ugh, recreation, then you should at least be prepared for the worst.  If you can’t tell, I don’t like the idea of people killing animals for “sport,” mostly cause it’s a waste of good food.

          3. An air horn is a better solution for most people who encounter large predators. But if I lived in an area with a lot of bears, I’d probably want a firearm if I went walking in the woods.

      2. The rest of the world doesn’t build out in the sub/exurbs as much as the US does. Quite sensibly, I might add. Tough guy suburban warriors!

    3. guns are everywhere in the US. 

      i know very few people that are out of school and don’t own at least a shotgun.. hell most high school students here in central wisconsin have easy access to some sort of high powered firearm, be it their parents’ or some other family member’s, or belonging to the parents of a friend, or something. if people really want to get their hands on a gun and are planning on going crazy with it, they probably aren’t going to be wasting time trying to find a 3d printer.

      that being said, i’d repeat that a plastic gun is going to be more dangerous to the user than to anyone else, and the possibility of getting a firearm that can pass through a metal detector? seems like it would be too easy.

      i just don’t see the point, really, other than to stir up trouble. why not 3d printed pipe bombs, you could make those too..? hey, why not..?

    4.  Polices forces have no duty to defend you.  If they happen to, it’s nice.  See: recent London rioting for example.

  16. I’d guess Stratasys is more concerned about the liability question: someone downloads the blueprints, blows their hand off 1st time they fire it… someone’s going to be looking for a lawsuit and Stratasys would definitely be an easier target (legally) than a Collective

  17. Why wasn’t their first project just to print a new 3-D printer using the existing 3-D printer? That project would have paid for itself in a few years. 

  18. I really wish these folks could’ve managed to restrain themselves for a few years, until 3D printing was ubiquitous and popular. Right now it’s still a novelty in the public eye, which means no significant backlash if the feds regulate and suppress the hell out of it.

    Thanks, assholes! You’ve derailed a world-changing technology because you just couldn’t wait to have shitty, worthless guns. Great job.

    1. That was exactly my thought.  I can see the headlines now:
      “New home 3D printers able to build plastic handguns undetectable to airport scanners”
      “14 yr old boy builds handgun on 3D printer, brings it into school.  Sources say he downloaded the design from the internet.”

      Uproar and overeaction ensues, followed heavy regulation swept-in in a panicked rush because too few people yet have seen or understand the potential benefits of this technology.

      So I don’t blame the 3D printer company at all for wanting no part of this guy’s project. 

  19. A 3D printer cannot print “anything”- it can print any SHAPE in a limited number of printer-friendly materials.

    This “project” sounds like a hoax from end to end- was the goal to print a 3D gun, or to stir people up?

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