Weird War


Liberating the 3D Printed Gun

The Liberator

Yes, yes, we now have 3D printed guns, and our world has changed because of it, right? Right.

I’ve written about 3D printed guns before, and I’ve talked about 3D printed guns before, and now they are (somewhat) possible. But don’t be frightened, as there is little new here.

Andy Greenburg at Forbes has been leading the pack on the story of Cody Wilson and Defense Distributed and their attempt (and success?) at 3D printing a gun. And OH NOES! Now other people are printing guns! And some of them are even improving them, but this should be no surprise. Hackers and makers see something that needs improving, and they improve it. When I saw the files for the Liberator the first thing I thought was that it needed work. After I talked to someone who is well versed in 3D printing and gunsmithing, they agreed.

I want to toss out this quote from HaveBlue again:

The one point I try to make (and that they generally fail to grasp) is that if it eventually becomes possible to download a file from a website, feed it to a printer, and have a fully operable handgun a few hours later, the technology will have already impacted our lives in far more incredible ways.

So has our world changed? Yes, I think it has… As I mentioned recently in Your 3D Printed Future, people have created open-source designs for mechanical finger prosthetics. Yeah, that’s pretty amazing. We’re not talking about medical companies charging thousands of dollars for mechanical finger prosthetics, we’re talking about a couple of really awesome people working together on this, and creating something you can 3D print yourself with a sub-$1000 3D printer.

What else is there? Well, bioprinting is progressing nicely. Boprinting sheets of skin for skin grafting procedures, bioprinting a replacement bladder, bioprinting replacement for missing bone for a human skull, and even bioprinting part of a face!

(The joke is that you’ll be able to print out a replacement hand for the one that gets blown off by your 3D printed gun. It’s only half of a joke, because it’s pretty close to being true.)

Now, back to the gun issue. I highly recommend the Hackaday post: The first 3d printed gun has been fired, and I don’t care. Right now the Liberator is little more than a zip gun, which is a simple (single shot) gun that anyone with access to a local hardware store could build. But don’t worry, you’ll be safe:

In late 2000, British police encountered a four shot .22 LR zip gun disguised as a mobile phone, where different keys on the keypad fire different barrels. Because of this discovery, mobile phones are now x-rayed by airport screeners worldwide.

Sigh… more security theater. Just what we need. Do we need regulation on 3D printers? No, just like we don’t need regulation on lathes and mills and hardware stores. So here’s the deal. I have the file for the Liberator, and I’ve held a Liberator, and I’m not a bad person, and I hope to never, ever shoot another person in my life. Why? Because that’s not the type of person I am, and that’s not the kind of world I want to live in.

As for the Liberator, it’s a crappy gun, and if you want a good gun for cheap, there are dozens of ways to get one, both legally, and illegally. And if you want to make one, there are also better ways to go about it than 3D printing one. If the novelty of a cheap, crappy, plastic gun intrigues you, go ahead and print one. Try not to blow your hand off in the process. Guns are dangerous, and even a well made gun can malfunction.

3D printing is all the rage right now, and the media loves hype because it means more attention, more page views, and more dollars. So yeah, go 3D print something, maybe a gun, maybe some mechanical finger prosthetics. Just follow this one simple rule: BE EXCELLENT TO EACH OTHER.

Be Excellent to Each Other.


Printable Guns on WNYC

WNYC 3D Printed Guns

A few weeks ago I was interviewed by a reporter from WNYC for their New Tech City show about 3D printed guns.

I know a lot more about 3D printing than I do about guns, but since the two have intersected, the media is looking for people with knowledge in both subjects, and I guess I know enough about both to talk intelligently about it. :)

We are not yet at the stage in home 3D printers where you can just download and print a working gun. It may be 10, or 20, or 50 years out, but don’t worry about it, because the one thing I’ve heard numerous times in talking to various members of Milwaukee Makerspace is this bit from Have Blue:

The one point I try to make (and that they generally fail to grasp) is that if it eventually becomes possible to download a file from a website, feed it to a printer, and have a fully operable handgun a few hours later, the technology will have already impacted our lives in far more incredible ways.

Just think about that… We’re already making progress on printing human organs. Imaging printing a medical device that could save someone’s life, or medication, or your next mobile phone, or food, or any specialty tool you need. It’s potentially World Changing, so to focus on guns alone is just silly.

You can check out the episode on their site: 3D-Printed Guns and Violent Video Games, or listen using the embedded player below.


3D Printed Guns for Everyone!

Glock (from Thingiverse)

The media is up in arms about Have Blue’s “3D printed gun” (which he brought to the Milwaukee 3D Printing Meetup last month, by the way…)

And yeah, I put “3D printed gun” in quotes because it’s just one part of a gun. But you’ll see headlines like Hobbyist builds working assault rifle using 3D printer, Functioning 3D-printed rifle you can make at home, The world’s first 3D-printed gun is a terrifying thing, and A Working Assault Rifle Made With a 3-D Printer.

Those are all great headlines, and if you read the articles, they might explain things a bit more, but the short version is, Have Blue printed a part of a gun. He didn’t print an entire gun, and he didn’t print ammunition. The next headline might be “Guy with tools makes a gun” because the only new thing here is the 3D printed part. People have been making guns at home with machine tools for years, and as I understand it, it’s legal in the United States.

Saying he printed a working gun is akin to saying I printed a house because my RepRap made a coat hook, and I just, you know, assembled all the other parts around it to complete the house.

So before you think I’m some gun-toting lunatic building weapons in my basement, well… I’m not. (I do have a few Art Robots I’m working on, but the headline “Man builds working Art Robot with 3D Printer” is not very exciting.)

Anyway, I figured that everyone needed a gun, so I grabbed this Glock from Thingiverse. I printed it out in 30 seconds. Well, in an hour, but the time lapse below is 30 seconds long.

So here’s a nice photo showing my 3D printed gun. It’s orange because I’m running low on black filament and haven’t got any nice silver filament yet.

3D Printed Gun

I wanted my 3D printed gun to be a little smaller so it would fit in a mint tin. Oh, did I mention it’s not fully functional yet? Yeah, I should have mentioned that…

I’ve been thinking a lot about guns lately, and if you can forgive me this (slightly) humorous post, I’ll expand upon my gun-related thoughts in a future post.