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3D-printed gun sets off controversy

(Defense Distributed )
May 09, 2013|By Ryan Smith, @RyanSmithWriter | For RedEye

A plastic gun made almost entirely with a 3D printer was fired last week, marking the first time ever a functioning firearm has been created with the technology.

Well, sort of. The 3D printed gun, called “The Liberator,” was created in Austin, Texas, by an organization called Defense Distributed, which claims its goal is to “produce and publish information related to the 3D printing of firearms.” The weapon was created with a 3D printer purchased on eBay for $8,000 and assembled using 15 printed components made from ABS plastic. Only the 16th piece, the firing pin, was made from metal. But it’s far from an efficient damage dealer. Forbes reported that after several successful shots during a field test, the gun misfired and later exploded.

Still, the digital blueprints for the weapon could be uploaded to the internet and downloaded by the public, prompting calls for a ban on 3D-printed weapons.

Scott Roberts, a professor of art and animation at DePaul, said he doesn’t see how the government would be able to control 3D-printed guns.

“Because all they are is files on the web, I don’t know how you can really limit anything like that,” he said.

However, Mike Moceri, co-owner of The 3D Printer Experience in Chicago, believes that people are overreacting to the idea about 3D-printed guns.

“This is a ‘scary’ technology because we have no idea where it’s going,” he said. “People are afraid of things they can’t control and the future is one of them. Think about the positive things you can do with it instead of the negative.”

Ryan Smith is a RedEye special contributor.

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