I know guns are fascinating, but I do wish design magazines (and Pop Mech and Pop Sci) would lean in the direction of fewer killing machines. We are a very violent people, and I fear we will reap the whirlwind.
OTOH, Making your own machine gun has got to be a legal issue...regardless of how much fun it is. Making your own brass knuckles will get you into legal trouble.
If your contribution to humanity is 3D home-made weapons. Try to balance your karma by contributing to some good cause.
The main item of interest isn't the ability to make the parts from plastic [which aren't actually functional], but the ability to take the 3-D printed plastic part made from the correct polymer & use it as the "form" in a lost foam casting process to make untraceable high resolution metal parts very inexpensively.
I think you all are raising great points. I certainly agree that this technology opens up a Pandora's Box, but I suppose the box was already open and a criminal with a plan is going to find some way to pull it off, whether he opts for this kind of DIY method or finds some avenue to purchase weaponry. And as many of you point out, technology always comes with a dark side. It's just that this dark side is pretty dark.
This makes it possible to print the lower receiver of a AR-15 automatic, but are we getting closer to having an entire gun that can be made from plastic (whether from a 3D printer or not)? For more than a decade, spy movies and novels have depicted the use of plastic and ceramic guns as a means of beating metal detectors at airports, but the NRA has said that such guns are fiction. So now, are we looking at the possibility of plastic guns, as well as plastic guns made by 3D printers? Would this mean anything for airport security? Or do full-body scanners eliminate those issues?
Good points, Mrdon. But I don't this genie will go back into its bottle. Yet really, guns are so easy to come by, I don't believe 3D guns will amount to much when it comes to criminals or the deranged.
As with all innovative products, individuals who exploit them present the Dark Side of the technology. Being able to make a gun with a 3D printer is very scary. Having gun CAD data online for people to "print" functional weapons is truly scary. I am an advocate for open source software and hardware but printing guns and other weapons and sharing them freely online I'm totally against it.
This is a scary development. Sounds like it also could be dangerous for users. But this has to be measured against the ease of obtaining firearms. That ease may make this technology unnecessary for those who want guns. Who is really getting turned down when buying guns at shows or from private owners?
I guess this was inevitable, but I have a hard time thinking it's an example of either consumer or creative freedom. Bad behavior is already out there and this will help make it harder to control: if criminals can make their own entirely unregulated automatic weapons, bloodshed is likely to increase. Let alone land mines, and missiles, as Scott points out.
All technological improvements come with a downside. Automobiles, for example have pretty consistently cost about 40,000 lives a year in the US for the last couple of generations. If that "cost" was known at the outset, how anxious would people have been to embrace the technology? That being said, I'm not an advocate of making it easier for the average Joe or Jane to get their hands on potentially lethal products, so this advent certainly opens up a can of worms for law enforcement. Where and how you draw the line gets more complicated as technology advances. This manufacturing technique could potentially be used to build grenades, land mines, maybe even small missiles. No doubt about it, this article just highlights the Pandora's box that comes with new technologies.
What should be the perception of a product’s real-world performance with regard to the published spec sheet? While it is easy to assume that the product will operate according to spec, what variables should be considered, and is that a designer obligation or a customer responsibility? Or both?
Biomimicry has already found its way into the development of robots and new materials, with researchers studying animals and nature to come up with new innovations. Now thanks to researchers in Boston, biomimicry could even inform the future of electrical networks for next-generation displays.
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