Any time I show my 3D-printed sculptures or jewelry or have a 3D printer running at an event, I inevitably get asked about 3D-printed guns.
It’s exasperating, because the fear of these guns – which is currently unfounded – taints 3D printing.
This topic has come up before, but it’s back in the news as the people who want to put plans for 3D-printed guns online are back at it.
I cannot explain or understand why they think this is a good idea, and I’m someone who has owned and used guns, so I’m not a gun-hater by any means.
There is just a time and a place for everything, and this issue is frustrating on many levels, not the least of which has to do with 3D printing itself.
As I explain to people who ask – so we can get back to discussing all of the wonderful things 3D printing can do – most mere mortals, like me, cannot afford a 3D printer that can print in metal….
Yes, I can print in 80% bronze – 20% PLA, but that isn’t metal, it’s basically specialty PLA. The 3D printers that print in metal are owned by huge corporations like Honeywell, which prints aircraft parts in titanium.
Yes, someday 3D printers that can output 100% metal may be more affordable, but right now they aren’t.
So why can’t someone just print a gun from the downloadable instructions now being fought over?
Well, take a metal bullet and put it into a “plastic” (filament) gun and try to shoot it. It will blow up in your hand. I will leave it up to you to decide whether that’s a good idea.
So while yes, someday 3D-printed weapons might be an issue, right now, their greatest harm is engendering fear. And that I am clearly against.
For a longer and interesting explanation about 3D-printed guns, check out this article from All 3DP.