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3D Printable Files for Cody Wilsons Liberator Gun are Now Available to All on 3DShare

byWhitney HipoliteJun 18, 20153D Design3D Printed Guns3D Printing

The never-ending talk of 3D printing guns continues to run rampant among owners of 3D printers, as well as legislators and gun control activists all around the world. While the idea of 3D printing a gun can seem like quite a scary scenario, sometimes we just need to step back, relax, and take a look at the entire situation. Guns can be fabricated with or without a 3D printer, and the guns that have been made on desktop 3D printers have been far from reliable. These weapons have proven to be dangerous to the shooter as well as anyone in the vicinity when it is fired. While legislators and gun control lobbyists try their best to make a spectacle over the dangers of 3D printed guns, the reality is that if someone wants a gun to commit a crime, there are much easier ways of either fabricating or purchasing a firearm.

It was just last month thatwe reported onthe fact that the Liberator gun, designed by Cody Wilson, had made an appearance on 3D printing repository Thingiverse. After about 90 minutes of being up and readily available for anyone to download free of charge, it was removed by MakerBot, as a violation of their Terms of Service.

Earlier this week, however, the same designs have been made available by a user named ooscar8 on 3D printing repository3DShareIn a listingthat refers to the gun simply as Gun 8 mm printable, it appears as though all of the 3D printable parts for the famed Liberator gun are there for the taking.

With 3DShare marketing themselves as the reddit for 3D printing and as a 3D printing repository where anything goes, this latest upload of these design files will certainly test that claim. We caught up with3DSharefounder and CEO Mark Joseph, to ask him if he plans on removing the design files from the site.

We do not plan to remove the files until we are told there is a legal problem, Joseph tells . My opinion on what can be shared on platforms like 3DShare is not relevant in this discussion. We will listen to the community and the law makers in a democratic manner to make sure that any decisions are transparent and not the opinion of one person who runs a website.

So it appears that for the time being, there will be no action taken to prohibit the distribution of these 3D printable gun files from the 3DShare website. At the time of writing this article, the design files had been downloaded just five times(update: 76 downloads at the time of editing), yet many more people viewed and liked the item.

In the meantime, the debate over whether or not the distribution of 3D printed gun files should be outlawed remains one that is sure to have many legal battles ahead. What do you think? Should 3DShare remove these files? Should the distribution of 3D printable guns like Cody Wilsons Liberator be outlawed? Discuss in the3D Printed Gun Hits 3DShare forumthread on m.

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3D printed firearms

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

This article should include a summary of3D printingFirearms.

SeeWikipedia:Summary stylefor information on how to incorporate it into this articles main text.

TheLiberatoris a physible, 3D-printable single shot handgun, the first such printable firearm design made widely available online.

In 2012, the U.S.-based groupDefense Distributeddisclosed plans to design a working plasticgunthat could be downloaded and reproduced by anybody with a3D printer.[1][2]Defense Distributed has also designed a 3D printableAR-15type rifle lower receiver (capable of lasting more than 650 rounds) and a variety of magazines, including ones for AK-47.[3]Soon after Defense Distributed succeeded in designing the first working blueprint to produce a plastic gun with a 3D printer in May 2013. TheUnited States Department of Statedemanded that they remove the instructions from their website, deeming it a violation of theArms Export Control Act.[4][5]

In 2013 a Texas company,Solid Concepts, demonstrated a 3D printed version of anM1911 pistolmade of metal, using an industrial 3D printer.[6]

After Defense Distributed released their plans, questions were raised regarding the effects that 3D printing and widespread consumer-levelCNCmachining[7][8]may have ongun controleffectiveness.[9][10][11][12]

The U.S.Department of Homeland Securityand theJoint Regional Intelligence Centerreleased a memo stating Significant advances in three-dimensional (3D) printing capabilities, availability of free digital 3D printer files for firearms components, and difficulty regulating file sharing may present public safety risks from unqualified gun seekers who obtain or manufacture 3D printed guns, and that proposed legislation to ban 3D printing of weapons may deter, but cannot completely prevent their production. Even if the practice is prohibited by new legislation, online distribution of these digital files will be as difficult to control as any other illegally traded music, movie or software files.[13]

Internationally, where gun controls are generally tighter than in the United States, some commentators have said the impact may be more strongly felt, as alternative firearms are not as easily obtainable.[14]European officials have noted that producing a 3D printed gun would be illegal under their gun control laws,[15]and that criminals have access to other sources of weapons, but noted that as the technology improved the risks of an effect would increase.[16][17]Downloads of the plans from the UK, Germany, Spain, and Brazil were heavy.[18][19]

Attempting to restrict the distribution over the Internet of gun plans has been likened to the futility of preventing the widespread distribution ofDeCSSwhich enabled.[20][21][22][23]After the US government had Defense Distributed take down the plans, they were still widely available viaThe Pirate Bayand other file sharing sites.[24]Some US legislators have proposed regulations on 3D printers, to prevent them being used for printing guns.[25][26]3D printing advocates have suggested that such regulations would be futile, could cripple the 3D printing industry, and could infringe on free speech rights.[27][28][29][30][31]

InAustralia, the state law ofNew South Walescriminalizes the possession of the digital plans and files to 3D print firearms under Section 51F of the Firearms Act 1996.[32]In at least one instance, a loaded 3D printed firearm was found during a police raid on a meth lab.[33]

In theUnited Kingdom, theFirearms Act 1968bans the manufacturing of guns and gun parts without government approval.[34]Hence, 3D printed weapons are de facto banned because the law makes bans all manufacturing, regardless of method. However, theHome Officeupdated its Guide on Firearms Licensing Law to specifically mention the ban on 3D printed weapons.[35]In 2013, a police raid on a Manchester gang resulted in seizures in what are believed to be 3D printed gun parts. The Greater Manchester police believe they found a trigger and a magazine along with a quantity ofgunpowder.[36]

Under theUndetectable Firearms Actany firearm that cannot be detected by a metal detector is illegal to manufacture, so legal designs for firearms such as theLiberatorrequire a metal plate to be inserted into the printed body. The act had a sunset provision to expire December 9, 2013. SenatorCharles Schumerproposed renewing the law, and expanding the type of guns that would be prohibited.[37]Proposed renewals and expansions of the current Undetectable Firearms Act (H.R. 1474S. 1149) include provisions to criminalize individual production of firearm receivers and magazines that do not include arbitrary amounts of metal, measures outside the scope of the original UFA and not extended to cover commercial manufacture.[38][39]

On December 3, 2013, theUnited States House of Representativespassed the billTo extend the Undetectable Firearms Act of 1988 for 10 years (H.R. 3626; 113th Congress).[40]The bill extended the Act, but did not change any of the laws provisions.[41]

InJapan, in May 2014, Yoshitomo Imura was the first person to be arrested for possessing printed guns. Imura had five guns, two of which were capable of being fired, but had no ammunition. Imura had previously posted blueprints and video of his guns to the Internet, which set off the investigation.[42]

List of 3D printed weapons and parts

Wiki Weapon Project Aims To Create A Gun Anyone Can 3D-Print At Home.

Poeter, Damon (August 24, uld a Printable Gun Change the World?.

Download this gun: 3D-printed semi-automatic fires over 600 rounds.

Blueprints for 3-D printer gun pulled off website.

Defense Distributed v. United States Department of State.

Gross, Doug (2013-11-09).Texas company makes metal gun with 3-D printer. CNN

3D Printers, Meet Othermill: A CNC machine for your home office (VIDEO). Guns.com

Clark (6 October 2011).The Third Wave, CNC, Stereolithography, and the end of gun control. PopeHat.com.

Rosenwald, Michael S. (2013-02-25).Weapons made with 3-D printers could test gun-control efforts.

Making guns at home: Ready, print, fire. The Economist. 2013-02-16

Rayner, Alex (6 May 2013).3D-printable guns are just the start, says Cody Wilson.

Manjoo, Farhad (2013-05-08).3-D-printed gun: Yes, it will be possible to make weapons with 3-D printers. No, that doesnt make gun control futile. Slate.com

Homeland Security bulletin warns 3D-printed guns may be impossible to stop. Fox News. 2013-05-23

Cochrane, Peter (2013-05-21).Peter Cochranes Blog: Beyond 3D Printed Guns. TechRepublic

Gilani, Nadia (2013-05-06).Gun factory fears as 3D blueprints put online by Defense Distributed Metro News. Metro.co.uk

Liberator: First 3D-printed gun sparks gun control controversy. Digitaljournal.com

First 3D Printed Gun The Liberator Successfully Fired – IBTimes UK. Ibtimes.co.uk. 2013-05-07. Archived fromthe originalon 2013-10-29

US demands removal of 3D printed gun blueprints. neurope.eu

España y EE.UU. lideran las descargas de los planos de la pistola de impresin casera Economa EL PAS. Economia.elpais.com. 2013-05-09

Controlled by Guns. Quiet Babylon. 2013-05-07

3dprinting Jon Camfield dot com. Joncamfield.com

State Dept Censors 3D Gun Plans, Citing National Security – News from Antiwar.com. News.antiwar.com. 2013-05-10

Wishful Thinking Is Control Freaks Last Defense Against 3D-Printed Guns – Hit & Run. Reason.com. 2013-05-08

The Pirate Bay steps in to distribute 3-D gun designs. Salon.com. 2013-05-10

Sen. Leland Yee Proposes Regulating Guns From 3-D Printers «CBS Sacramento. Sacramento.cbslocal.com. 2013-05-08

Schumer Announces Support For Measure To Make 3D Printed Guns Illegal «CBS New York. Newyork.cbslocal.com. 2013-05-05

Ball, James (10 May government attempts to stifle 3D-printer gun designs will ultimately fail.

Like It Or Not, 3D Printing Will Probably Be Legislated. TechCrunch. 2013-01-18

Beckhusen, Robert (2013-02-15).3-D Printing Pioneer Wants Government to Restrict Gunpowder, Not Printable Guns Danger Room. Wired.com

How Defense Distributed Already Upended the World – Philip Bump. The Atlantic Wire. 2013-05-10

Putrich, Gayle S. (13 May 2013).Plastic gun draws eyes to 3-D printing. European Plastics News.

New South Wales Legislation.Section 51F of Firearms Act 1996 (NSW).

Mudgeeraba acreage raided, 3D-printed gun and drug lab allegedly found. ABC News AU

UK Home Office.Guide on Firearms Licensing Law

Press Association (October 25, 2013).Suspected 3D-printed gun found in Manchester gang raid, say police.

Senator seeks to extend ban on undetectable 3D-printed guns.

H.R. 3626 – All Actions. United States Congress

House votes to renew ban on plastic firearms.

Japanese man arrested for possessing 3-D printer guns

How 3-D Printed Guns Evolved Into Serious Weapons in Just One Year,

Should We Be Afraid of the 3D Printed Gun?,

This page was last edited on 22 November 2017, at 22:06.

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Jewelry CAD model file downloads for unique 3D designer jewelry models

Find and select eye catching3D jewelryCAD design files, downloadable 24/7 from our online store and generate your models with any 3D model printing machine.

Discover our online jewelry CAD model catalog with amazing designs and use download files for the printing 3D process, to create your own3D jewelry models.

Find the latest jewelry CAD design downloads for women rings, pendants and earrings in high-quality with fashionable jewelry design lines in style.

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Our Featured collection includes the best 3D models, CG textures, HDRI images and all things 3D of the week. All carefully hand-picked by our Quality team.

All new entries from our community are reviewed by our team to make sure they meet high-quality design and technical standards. From 3D shaders and materials to objects, youll always find something that catches your eye.

There are always new freebies ready for you to enjoy on Envato Market. 3D assets here on 3DOcean, graphic templates, 3D models, 3D printing files and more. Get them while you can!

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Every week we dedicate this space to one of the many 3D artists that tick all our boxes: great portfolio, brilliant assets loved by users, consistent high quality and more.

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3D Printed Exoskeleton Arms – STL Files

3D Printed Exoskeleton Arms – STL Files

Ever wanted to 3D print your own exoskeleton arms? Well now you can. What you are downloading is the result of countless hours of test printing to give you the most freedom of movement whilst still feeling strong and solid. I feel that this model brings us one step closer to Matt Damons exoskeleton suit from Elysium. All of the parts were printed on my Up Plus 2 which has a build area of 14cm x 15cm x 15cm. Please note : This is only a digital download (STL file) used on a 3-D printer, not a physical item. ***Disclaimer 3D Print It will not be liable for personal injury resulting from negligent use of this product. Please use the 3D Printed Exoskeleton with care and do not cause harm to others. The purchasing of this product does not award the customer the rights to use this 3D model for monetary gain or re-sale. The designer retains all copyrights and intellectual property rights even after these files are sold. Do not distribute the 3D Printed Exoskeleton STL files. The files that you have bought are for your personal use only. Copyright (c) Alex Czech 2015

3D Printed Powered Exoskeleton Hands (Upgrade v1) – STL Files

3D Printed Exoskeleton Hands – In One Piece – STL Files

3D Printed Exoskeleton Hands – STL Files

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Einstart-S Desktop 3D Printer

Argus Series 3D Laser Engraving Machine

SPARK II 3D Crystal Laser Engraving Machine

Einstart-S desktop 3D printer, developed by Shining3D. It is the second generation desktop 3D printer of Shining3D. Einstart-S is designed for personal or home use, features in easy operation, dazzling outlook, unique one-press printing design, meets all the needs of 3D printing. Any user can operate the printer within 10 minutes and print the first 3D model to have fun.

Unique one-press printing design; any user can operate the printer within 10 minutes and print the first 3D model to have fun.Upgraded 4.4-inch OLED operation screen can be used to control the printer without connecting to the PC

Full metal framework ensures the good print lorful front acrylic panel and the shining breathing light make the printers outlook dazzling.Small body(30cm*32cm*39cm), but big print envelope (16cm*16cm*16cm)

Innovative print technology brings users more delicate print objects, smoother surface, easily removable support.

Due to print objectss good accuracy and strength provide, simple assembly tests can be carried out; Einstart-Ss print accuracy is 0.15-0.35mm. Users can set their own requirement for accuracy and speed in the print software.

Smart equipment control software provides functions like print pause, filament change, which improves the print efficiency and makes colorful printing possible.

Printers can be applied in office, library, or at home given the kid protection design and environment-friendly PLA filament adoption.

3D model data shall be provided with the printer as a gift; Shining 3D shall also provide online data base and users can download from it for printing.

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The mascot of the 2014 Nanjing Youth Olympics to be 3D printed

As the 2014 Nanjing Youth Olympics is drawing near, the organizing committee has announced that the Hangzhou-based company Shining 3D Tech will be given the exclusive rights to produce its mascot Lele for commercial purposes.

Designer want to make a lotus shape coasters. When there is no exsiting prototype or 3D data of Lotus, here comes to the problem. How to make a real lotus coaster?

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Free 3d Printer Files

3D printers are useful for a huge variety of things, but you need to programme them with a three-dimensional CAD drawing or digital design in order to get anything useful out of them. 3D printer software analyses 3D models, taking a series of cross-sections and working out the distribution of space and solid matter within each layer. The following resources offer free 3d printer files:see below.

MakerBot Industries (pioneers of the Thing-o-Matic) have formedThingiverse, which is a community of people who create and share designs for objects that can be created using 3D printers, laser cutters and cnc machines, so that all can benefit from them.

TheSculpteo websiteprovides a community platform giving users access to 3D designers, and allowing them to share models, upload 3D designs, and will undertake the actual 3D printing, shipping the object directly to your home or office.

Cubifyallows users to download files for a small price. For each download a payment is sent to the creator/uploader of the file.

3D Systems, the company behind the Cube 3D printer have been involved with additive manufacturing and rapid prototyping since 1986 and they developed the STL file format which has become the industry standard for 3D printed object plans.

Most common CAD files can be converted to a format that will be recognised by 3D printers, including OBJ (Wavefront), PLY (Standford), OFF, SKP (Sketchup), KMZ (Google Earth), 3DS (3D Studio), AC3D, ASE (3D Studio), DAE (Collada), MD2/MD3 (Quake), Q3O (Quick3D), COB (TrueSpace), DXF (AutoCAD), LWO (TrghtWave), IGES, STEP (ISO 10303), VRML

Software packages such as Rhino, Maya, and SolidWorks are excellent for creating 3D files, and CAD software such as AutoCAD and Pro Engineer also produce good 3D printing results. There are a number of packages aimed at novices such as Googles SketchUp or Blender.

The following applications are free and will allow you to create your own 3D printer files.

Google Sketchupallows you to design 3D objects, with an intuitive interface. It offers free 3D models for download.

Wings 3Dis a free 3D application. The website has a forum.

Blenderis a free 3D design application aimed at a more experienced audience.

Sculptrisworks like you are sculpting directly from clay.

Make Humanis a free application specialising in 3D human body designs and enables you to edit body and face details.

GLC Playeris a free application which acts as a viewer of 3D models, rather than a regular modelling application. The GLC Player also lets you categorize 3D models into albums (like you would with a photo album). Printers 3D.

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Prep 3D Print Files and Connect 3D Printers

Prep 3D Print Files and Connect 3D Printers

Posted by:Anthony J. LockwoodinCheck it OutNovember 7, 2017

Ultimaker has been an interesting outfit since its first product, a DIY 3D printer that you can still get. But they now offer five other desktop 3D printers, including the Ultimaker 3 professional-level system that handles everything from prototypes to end-use parts as well as a nifty portable to-go unit. None of these units are budget breakers. Still, its Ultimakers software thats of interest in todays Check it Out. Two news items here.

First isUltimaker Cura, the companys free 3D print preparation toolkit. Its coded to be both friendly for neophytes and powerful for old pros. It has more than 200 settings that you power users can manipulate. It plays well with files from popular software platforms, which is also where the newly released version 3.0 sees some major action.

Version 3.0 of Ultimakers 3D print preparation software introduces integration plug-ins for major CAD systems and a new user interface with recommended settings for organizing 3D print jobs quickly.Image courtesy of Ultimaker.

New plug-ins that integrate Ultimaker Cura 3.0 with SOLIDWORKS 2016 and above as well as NX 10 and 11 are now available. You design in, say, SOLIDWORKS, click export to Ultimaker Cura and itll open with your design ready to be sliced and printed. Change something in NX? Click the button again and the design can be updated in Ultimaker Cura. Plug-ins are a one-click install, and Ultimaker will push updates as necessary. You can develop your own custom plug-ins, too.

In a Nutshell: Ultimaker Cura 3.0 and Cura Connect

Latest version of 3D print preparation software; faster performance.

New firmware update for linking and managing multiple 3D printers.

New plug-in integrations for major CAD systems; new skins for better top details.

New sliders to control print settings; faster print setups; reduced material usage.

Live webinardetails whats new in v3.0 and introduces Cura Connect firmware.

Ultimaker Cura 3.0 also has a new user interface and a slew of enhancements. Among the latter are new default settings that could save print time, material usage and material costs. New recommended settings with sliders should make for quick and easy print setups. Existing users will notice overall performance enhancements, especially at startup, as well as the new build plate showing graduations of 10 mm and 1 mm, new slicing features, new skin settings and Z seam options.

Second, today, November 7, Ultimaker released a printer firmware update calledCura Connect. It lets you link and manage multiple Ultimaker 3D printers for small-scale production. Cura Connect provides an overview of pending print jobs in one interface. You can select and group printers, queue jobs, monitor prints and schedule maintenance. It sends notifications when a printer needs attention. Cura Connect runs in your web browser.

Thats a lot of action. To explain it all, tomorrow, November 8, at 2 p.m. (ET), Ultimaker will air a live webinar detailing whats new in Ultimaker Cura and introducing Cura Connect. For now, start learning more about Ultimaker Cura 3.0 byclicking here.

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Preparing a print file

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With Cura you can easily convert a 3D model to a 3D print file, using your own prefered print settings.

The basic steps of this process are described below.

As a first step the model that you want to print must be loaded into Cura. This can be done in several ways:

Use the Open… button in the top left corner of the screen

Go to File

Select the file on your computer and select Open with Cura

Drag the file from your computer into Cura

If you already loaded models in Cura before, you can also directly open recent files that you used by going to File and selecting the required file from the menu.

After loading the model you can tell Cura which settings you would like to use for the 3D print. When using Cura for the first time it will show you the Simple mode, where you can find a Time vs Quality slider in the Print Setup screen. On the left side you will find Minimum Draft, which can be used for a fast print with low quality. If you want to have a high quality print and time is less important, you can move the slider to the right, towards Maximum Quality. The slider can be positioned everywhere on the bar, till you have found the desired balance between time and quality. Cura will automatically calculate which layer height, infill settings, print speed and other settings it has to use based on the position of the slider.

Furthermore there is an option for printing your model with a support structure. When your model has overhanging parts or parts that completely float in the air it might be necessary to use this in order to support the print while is being built up. You can simply click on the Enable Support checkbox to activate this option.

Once the desired settings have been chosen, Cura will convert the model to a 3D print file (a .Gcode file). This converting process is called slicing. While Cura is slicing the model a progress bar will run at the bottom right corner to give an indication on the status of the slicing process. Each time a setting is changed Cura will restart the slicing process automatically.

Once the slicing has been done the print file can be saved. You can do this in the following way:

Insert the SD card (in case you want to save the file directly to the SD card)

Click the blue button in the bottom right corner to save the file, or go to File

Above the Save button you will also find some information about the print. Cura will give an estimation on the print time and required amount of material for printing. This will help you planning the print and selecting the right amount of material.

The progress bar shows the slicing status

How to: Create a Cura Connect group

How to: Add more 3D printers to a group

How to: Start a print in Cura Connect

What does a successful first layer look like?

How to plug in the power cord correctly?

How to fix the most common Ultimaker error messages?

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Useful tips & tricks, inspiring 3D prints, immediate help and new connections are just around the corner.

I 3D-Printed An AR-15 Assault Rifle And It Shoots Great!

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I 3D-Printed An AR-15 Assault Rifle And It Shoots Great!

An assembled AR-15 Semi-Automatic Rifle with 3D printed lower receiver.Gilman Louie

Last week, Philadelphia became the first city in the United States to pass a 3D-Printer gun ban. Some critics feel that the city was premature given the state of 3D printing technology. Others believe that this preemptive measure will help that city get ahead of creative criminals. Many lawmakers are asking themselves: how real is the threat and how realistic is it to restrict the printing of 3D guns?

Consumer 3D printing has recently been enabled as a feasible activity, with the arrival of printers ranging in price from $300-$4,000 from companies such as Makerbot, Cubify, Flashforge, TypeA Machines, and Solidoodle. But the current generation of machines are still not reliable nor easy to use and they have very little embedded systems support from computers and software. It is still considered a hobby activity, much as personal computers were in 1978 when Apple, Commodore, and Radio Shack introduced the first consumer computers.

A debate is raging in the technology industry about how important and impactful the idea of consumers using their own 3D printers will be in society. Some dismiss the idea as a fad. Other than printing throwaway trinkets, what good are these consumer devices? Almost no one disagrees that the commercial and industrial use of 3D printers will change manufacturing systems forever and lead to a remarkable revolution in custom and even high-volume manufacturing. The touchstone for the debate about consumer use of 3D printers is the idea that an individual can print a functional gun in the privacy of their home and then use it without ever coming under the scrutiny of law enforcement.

It would be easy to get lost in the intricate framework of federal and state regulations covering the manufacture, distribution, sale and use of firearms, because the framework is incredibly intricate. For instance, a congressionally approved law that prohibits the printing of undetectable plastic firearms just got extended.

There are regular reports of individuals using professional grade 3D printers to print plastic parts to produce small arms. Recently, one company, Solid Concepts, using a 3D printer that can print metals, reproduced a clone of a military 1911 .45-caliber semiautomatic pistol, which successfully fired 50 rounds. Defense Distributed, a non-profit digital publisher and 3D R&D firm, developed an all-plastic handgun based on a WWII design called the Liberator.

The question then is how difficult would it be to construct a legal, unregistered, and reliable semi-automatic rifle using widely available components, software, tools, materials, designs and 3D printers? I decided to put that question to the test by constructing a rifle based on the popular AR-15 platform, a semiautomatic version of the automatic rifle used by the military called the M4.

On a recent weekend, I printed the key part (called the lower receiver, shown in blue in the photo) of an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle on a consumer 3D printer made by Makerbot. The next weekend I took the assembled firearm and succeeded in firing more than 50 rounds into a target from 50 feet away. I am licensed and trained in small arms handling, but I was able to print this part without asking permission or breaking any Federal or State laws in California (it should be noted that firearm laws vary from state to state and from city to city).

Trouble ahead! We havent been able to effectively control the distribution and use of guns in our society when you couldnt make your own. We havent even been able to agree on whether we should even try, given the Constitutions Second Amendment Right to Bear Arms. But now, 3D printers are being sold to individuals who are experimenting with building all kinds of objects. The single most controversial 3D objects being printed are firearms. The continued development of 3D printing technology will undermine any notion of regulating firearms, and controlling their distribution as has been done in the past, will lead to a remarkable re-evaluation of our policies regarding gun rights and gun control.

An 80% stripped aluminum lower.Gilman Louie

The most difficult constraint in this exercise was to be able to construct a legally compliant firearm. Federal law allows individuals to construct an unregistered firearm for personal use as long as the user starts out with the regulated part being less than 80% completed. On an AR-15, the only regulated part is called the lower receiver (the part that connects the trigger, magazine loader, stock and barrel into a single unit). A stripped lower is just the bare housing without any of the other components of the rifle. The lower is typically made out of aircraft aluminum, used to house the trigger and hammer assembly, and holds in place the magazine, rifle stock and the upper. The upper contains the bolt, firing pin, and barrel.

In California, you must use a design that has already been approved by the state to avoid running afoul of anti-zip gun laws.  California also requires the use of a bullet button so that the magazine requires a tool to remove it.  By federal law, the assembled firearm must also be detectable by metal detectors (until December 9th). There are set of other rules and laws that control different aspects of how you design the gun.

I began by purchasing a book on how to build your own AR-15. The book I bought is intended to help gun enthusiasts assemble an AR-15 from parts, not to print the parts. Other than the lower receiver, I was able to order the book and all of the assembly parts online. I anticipated that I wanted to use a small caliber to ensure that the rifle fired reliably and did not break due to high-pressure recoil. I was able to order on-line a complete AR-15 upper receiver (mostly the barrel) that used a rim fired .22 long rifle caliber round rather than the standard center fired .223 round. I found and purchased online widely available software tools: 3D CAD software that is needed to design, modify and view 3D objects, as well as software that converts 3D object files into 3D printable files.

The only part that needed to be printed was a stripped-down version of the lower receiver. All of the other components of the rifle can be easily and legally bought on Amazon, eBay or gun-enthusiast sites. Just using Google search on a web browser, I found plenty of 3D CAD files for the lower, as well as detailed blueprints of an AR-15 lower.  The State Department, citing International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), restricts the posting of 3D files designed for the express use in weapons manufacturing.  To avoid using a restricted file, I downloaded a generic 3D model, used the blueprints to get the exact measurements, and the 3D CAD software to clean up the model to make it printer ready. (I am trained and competent in using 3D CAD software, so I have an advantage over the general consumer.) It took me less than 30 minutes to turn the generic 3D object file into a 3D printer file.

Meshlab open source 3D software used for processing and editing of 3D objects.Gilman Louie

I had previously bought a 3D printer called Makerbot Replicator 2 on , as well as a spool of blue Polylactic Acid (PLA) bio plastic that the Replicator 2 uses to create its 3D prints. I have been using the Makerbot printer for a couple of months, learning how to use it and what issues affected the quality of printing, so a new user would take longer to get the same result. I printed the lower receiver in a little over 12 hours.

MakerBot Replicator 2 with completed 3D AR-15 compatible lower.Gilman Louie

I cleaned up the print using a power drill, Dremel-brand rotary tool and a small amount of Plasticweld to correct a few imperfections in the printing process.

3D printed lower (blue) compared to 80% stripped aluminum AR-15 lower (black).Gilman Louie

To turn a stripped lower to a complete AR-15 lower assembly, you need to acquire the following: a lower AR-15 parts kit, an AR-15 rifle butt-stock kit and a bullet button (for California).  Using a punch kit, screwdriver and vise grip, I followed the instructions provided in the book to assemble the complete functional lower in under an hour. Other than bullets, all of the necessary parts and tools needed to assemble a 3D printed rifle can be purchase on Amazon.

Completed lower and a manual on how to build your own AR-15 Rifle.Gilman Louie

Once the lower was completed, I attached the lower to the upper using two pins and added a sight. I now had a legal, usable rifle ready for testing.

At a local range, I loaded the magazine with .22 caliber ammo I purchased at the range. I inserted a magazine into the rifle, chambered a round, and squeezed the trigger . . . nothing. I had to experiment, but when I switched magazines, the gun worked. I fired off 10 rounds. At 50 feet, using a red dot sight, it was easy to place all of the hits into a quarter-size group at the center of the target. I shot another 50 rounds down range. Results of the test: The rifle is reliable, accurate and did not suffer any cracks or mechanical failures.

The online 3D printing community has a tradition of modding (modifying) designs iteratively. Users post their work in progress online. Other users print and modify the original designs, and repost the improved design. High-demand designs are iterated quickly and go viral to the community. If I was not worried about breaking the law, I could have downloaded a modified design for an AR-15 lower that would have fired 5.56 military rounds more reliably than the lower I printed. These modified designs have been used to fire up to 80 military round before failing. Remember, I chose a lower caliber (.22LR) upper to increase reliability and to make it more compliant with other states laws. I could have easily chosen a .223 or 5.56 upper (although it might have generated enough recoil to crack the plastic lower); I wasnt interested in putting my personal safety at risk to make a point!

Control over printing guns and gun parts is becoming a hotly debated topic between gun-control and gun-rights groups. Besides disrupting existing domestic firearm laws, 3D printable firearms will make sections of the current UN Arms Treaty ineffective. Policies are being debated at every level of government: state & local, federal and international. Regardless of the outcome of the debate, my experiment demonstrates that this particular genie is already out of the bottle. As with all things digital, it is now impossible to stop the sharing and use of digital content even if sharing is illegal. It is true with music, it is true with movies, and it is true with 3D printing.

The ability to print metals, conductive organics and biological tissue has already been demonstrated and costs are falling quickly. Just about anything that can be powderized or liquefied can be printed. While consumer 3D printers are based on plastic-based processes, there are multiple competing technologies that have significant advantages. The costs of these technologies are also falling quickly. I believe 3D printing will follow a similar performance curve to Moores Law, which a cofounder of Intel, Gordon Moore, observed five decades ago for semiconductors: performance doubles every two years.

It isnt difficult to imagine how disruptive this technology will be once anyone can print metals, biologicals, organics, chemicals and other exotic materials using low-cost printers.  If you can print small arms, you might be able to print IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices) or other DIY (Do It Yourself) weapons, instead of being restricted to assembling from whatever is at hand.

An Apple II (1977) and a MakerBot Replicator 2 (2013).Gilman Louie

Im often asked how mature is the current state of the 3D printing. The closest comparison I have is that we are in a similar place where personal computers were in 1977. The Makerbot Replicator 2 is the equivalent of the Apple II. The Apple II had limited capability and was widely dismissed by many experts as a toy. By the end of 1977, 50,000 microcomputers had been sold to consumers. In 2013, 50,000 3D printers were sold to consumers. Now the personal computer is a part of a history that has lead directly to tablets and smartphones and wearable computers for billions of consumers. We are at the dawn of a new revolution that will be as profound and disruptive as the personal computing revolution.

Gilman Louie is a partner at Alsop Louie Partners, an early-stage venture capital firm in San Francisco. He is the chairman of the Federation of American Scientists, recently served as a commissioner on the National Commission for Review of Research and Development Programs of the U.S. Intelligence Community and chairedthe committee on Forecasting Future Disruptive Technologies for the U.S. National Academies. He is the founding CEO of In-Q-Tel, formed in 1999 to provide access to new technologies for the CIA. And he is the founder of Spectrum HoloByte, developer and publisher of hit video games such as Falcon F-16 and Tetris.

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