- Interview with Dr Adrian Bowyer, the creator of the RepRap 3D Printer
- The Mathematics of 3D Printing
- 11 Reasons why Schools need 3D Printers
- 3D Printing a 3D Printer
- How to change the battery on an IP54 digital caliper
- Off Topic – not 3D Printing Related
The company Create It Real has created software that enables a printer to disallow printing guns.
According to their press release they say:
3D printing has recently hit the news as a young American was able to create a working firearm by using a 3D printer to build the lower receiver, the only part of a gun which cannot easily be purchased. Only a few months later, 3D models of an entirely printable gun appeared on the Internet. As proven by the Australian police, those homemade firearms are highly dangerous and, in many countries, illegal. Now new software developed by a 3D printer company will prevent 3D printing of guns.
There have been debates in the media on how to stop people from printing guns on their 3D printers. Banning the technology would mean a huge regression towards what The Economist called the “third industrial revolution”. Banning the files which contain the 3D information of a gun does not seem to be possible in the times of digital file sharing.
The Danish company Create it REAL, however, has found a solution to this issue. Upon opening a 3D file, the smart software scans the model and tries to match its characteristics with the characteristics of a firearm. If certain features align, the software will not allow the user to view and print the model.
For safety reasons, there are no models of firearms stored on the user’s computer but rather a list of its characteristics.
Create it REAL’s CEO Jérémie Pierre Gay assured that “printing other, non-firearm models is of course still possible.”
Well, this raises a bunch of issues.
Firstly it assume that one’s printer has this software installed. This would imply that it would only work on commercial printers as current RepRap style printers all use open source software.
Interestingly enough Create It Real’s business plan seems to enable other companies to bring 3D printers to market. I can’t blame them for giving a reason for companies to buy their printers.
Secondly it assumes that the software actually works. I imagine it would be difficult to determine if a small part is part of a larger firearm. I can imagine work arounds and patches being available as zero day fixes to the problem.
Thirdly it assumes that there are no false positives – does the software err on the side of a part being a firearm or not being a firearm? After all, we cant build a filter to stop spam email how are we going to filter random parts for being part of a firearm?
Little Johnny bought an ACME printer and the first thing he did was print a firearm!
I can just hear a worried mother saying. I guess this software aims to stop this.
Of course Little Johnny could make a gun that fires a single shotgun shell easily from parts available in almost any shed. Or he could learn how to use a lathe and start making a gun.
My humble opinion
This software sounds good on the surface but I don’t believe that it is 100% accurate and that cracks/patchs will not be available from the day the printer is released.
Secondly I don’t feel that printing a firearm is a problem for 3D printer manufacturers. After all simple guns can be made out of household parts. More complex guns can be made in any well equipped shed.
I think the more practical way to hand the ‘3D printed Guns’ issue is to have laws like in Australia:
- It’s illegal to manufacture a firearm without a license
- It’s illegal to own a firearm without license.
The penalties are pretty severe if convicted.
I have sent this article to Create It Real for them to reply in comments or the like
Also anytime I blog on guns – even the slightest wiff of gun control brings out all sorts of folks preaching the US constitution. Guys – this is an Australian Blog talking about 3D printing in Australia with Australian Laws.
The key phrase here that related to 3D printing is:
“Whether it is the hobbyist in the garage coming up with a prototype for a new gadget to make our lives easier or the scientist producing life-saving medical devices, 3D printing brings with it a new set of opportunities for rapid and efficient trade, innovation, and creativity,” the report reads.
“And, just as 3D printing offers the opportunity to make meaningful contributions to our society, there also exists the opportunity for individuals who look to exploit others’ hard work to abuse this technology by trading in counterfeit and pirated goods, of which we must be cognizant and diligent in our efforts to prevent.”
A very diplomatic statement basically saying that 3D Printing is on the copyright radar.
My thoughts are:
- The relevant industries have not been able to stop music priracy – so how are they going to stop 3D printing piracy? There are already sites out there (some even have the music too) that provide designs to be downloaded.
- I’m interested to see how the US is going to apply it’s copyright laws to the rest of the world. Regarding music it hasnt gone very well at all.
So in short, an empty threat – but nevertheless one to be aware of.
I don’t know much about guns but this article from the register has stuff to say. He seems to know his stuff when he compares a normal gun with the 3D printed gun.
Some quotes include:
When the nail hits the cap in the cartridge base in a Liberator, the expanding gas likewise pushes the lead bullet off the end of the cartridge and down the “barrel” pipe. Much of the gas leaks past due to the loose fit and soft material of the “barrel”. The lump of plastic with the nail (probably) stops the cartridge case spitting out of the back, which is pretty easy as the bullet pops out of the extremely short, basically smooth* “barrel” almost immediately with very little push from the gas required. Most of the cartridge’s hot gas spills out of the muzzle without getting a chance to do any work on the bullet, which is the main reason the cruddy “barrel” doesn’t (always) come to bits on the first shot and the cartridge case (probably) doesn’t just spit backward into the user’s face.
The Liberator’s bullet emerges going very slowly and wobbling or tumbling due to lack of spin. It might go almost anywhere, though not very far, and is unlikely to do much damage to anything it manages to hit.
It’s a bit better than holding up a cartridge in a pair of pliers and banging the cap with a centrepunch or similar, but not much. (If you do that, by the way, the bullet or more likely bits of the cartridge might on an unlucky day have someone’s eye out, probably yours – but that’s about the only way it could really hurt anyone. Don’t for goodness’ sake confine the cartridge inside your hand, or you will lose it. The bullet will travel a few yards, at best.)
PS I love this 3D printed gun story – there is so much emotion around it!
- Company creates software that they say stops the 3D printing of Guns
- U.S. Copyright Czar Applauds Six-Strikes, Warns Over 3D Printing Piracy
- Is the 3D Printed gun any good?
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- 3D Printed Guns
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- Adelaide man launches unique 3D Printed Jewellery Kickstarter
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