This is a story about the rapid evolution of a technology that has forced the American legal system to play catch up. Cody Wilson, a 24 year old University of Texas Law student, is an advocate for the open source production of firearms using 3D printing technology. This makes him a highly controversial figure on both sides of the gun control issue. MOTHERBOARD sat down with Cody in Austin, Texas to talk about the constitution, the legal system, and to watch him make and test-fire a 3D-printed gun.
A related item at VICE by Adam Clark Estes reports on the reaction of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).
The government doesn't seem entirely sure what to think of Wilson's own institution. I talked to a number of ATF representatives, all of whom sent a similar message: 3D-printed gun technology has arrived, but it's not good enough yet to start figuring out how to regulate it.
"We are aware of all the 3D printing of firearms and have been tracking it for quite a while," Earl Woodham, spokesperson for the ATF field office in Charlotte, told me. "Our firearms technology people have looked at it, and we have not yet seen a consistently reliable firearm made with 3D printing."
Gilles Retsin has been experimenting with 3D-printed design concepts, but he’s also been working with computational mereology to engage in large-scale discrete fabrication. Think of it like Tetris or LEGO: a set of prefabbed interlocking parts that can then be assembled by a robot programmed to create a specific shape.
Jimmy DiResta kept passing by a 1911 Chandler & Price letterpress sitting out in the rain. After buying it from the neglectful owner, he spent several years lovingly restoring it, eventually learning how to print with it.
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