The article was informative, and factual ... up to a point. To mention the legalities of producing such a device is reasonable. (Even if the laws behind it may not be truly constitutional.) However, your "gun control" comment was out of place. Leave your biases out of supposedly factual articles.
It was quite encouraging to see that the majority of comments are quite rational, and did not get carried away with brain-washed media propaganda. Thank you.
On a practical sense, it is highly unlikely that the criminal types out there would go through the bother and expense of producing a 3D printed gun. Real ones may be illegally obtained much more easily, and cheaply. The idea that one may produce a non-metallic and thus non-detectable gun is a real possibility. However, this has been a possibility long before 3D printers. Remember the film "In the Line of Fire"? However, producing a rifle by 3D printing would likely end up with something very weak, and possibly fail immediately. There are better methods for doing this if one has criminal intent.
Personally in my opinion I really can't see this technology being used by gangs or terrorists at this time to produce firearms.
There are several reasons for this:
1. I can not see the 3-D printers being an inexpensive investment.
2. This requires someone to be familiar with 3-D modeling software that will interface with a 3-D printer. There are likely not any engineers, designers, drafters working for terrorist organizations or gangs.
3. Requires you to be able to calculate structural and thermal stresses that will occur when the projectile is fired. Again requires a person who understands high level math such as calculus, Differential equations, etc. Also to understand dynamics, static's, and complex physics theories.
4. So if a gang or terrorist organization wanted to produce said firearms they would need lots of money, a few highly educated individuals with the proper experience as mechanical engineers.
5. How many Engineers, designers, and drafters do you know who are unethical enough to join up with organizations such as this to create firearms with a 3-D printer for them?
While I can see giving out the file is a bad thing they don't have the information on how to make the working parts of the AR-15 the do all the heavy work. At this time I can not see gangs, terrorist organizations going around and making plastic firearms that actual work.
While the AK may be the standard for performance for the ultimate reliability in harsh combat conditions without much maintenance (cleaning), it's otherwise, in my experienced opinion, just a piece of ugly junk...a lead sprayer at best. I've never seen an AK do anything serious at target shooting, unlike the accurate and very refined AR rifles. As for semi-auto rifles, many old timers will say they've never seen a person who is a "good shot" who uses such a rifle. I prefer fine bolt action rifles for my target shooting...although I do enjoy shooting semi-autos also.
To all you detractors, my guns are "sporting goods", not weapons! Design News should not be a political opinion place like CNN.
Popular Science mag had an article recently about this engineer on their web site and the conversation predictably veered off into the bushes, just like here. A couple clarifications, both to the positive and negative.
First, on the negative side, the part this engineer made is, in strictly legal terms, the "firearm" itself. The receiver is where the manufacturer markings and serial number are required by law to appear if the firearm is to be sold. So from that perspective, this really is a big deal. You could buy every other part on the Internet or in gun shows without any restrictions (no ID, nothing) and only create this one part at home, and have a completely anonymous weapon, for whatever good it might do you.
On the other hand, some clever soul could also whittle the thing out of a scrap of pine two-by-six, so from that perspective it's NOT that big a deal. This is mainly a "proof of concept" and nothing more. Hardly enough to get your knickers in a twist. The average drive-by shooter is not going to spend his nights and weekends working on this. There are dozens of other outlets, legal and illegal, which will provide the same thing faster, and at a bargain price.
For the dyed-in-the-wool anti-gun enthusiasts out there, if you're serious, don't waste your time arguing with anyone about how you don't like parts of the constitution. Organize to amend the constitution the legitimate way: get the House and Senate to approve your proposal by 2/3 vote and have 3/4 of the states ratify it. If that's too much trouble, then kindly find another subject to discuss, thank you so much.
Interesting article ...but the concerns creates an opportunity for lots of fun thoughts to inject into the discussion - such as;
1. You can have my 3-D Printer when you pry it from my cold, dead hands.
2. When 3-D Printers are outlawed, only outlaws will have 3-D printers.
The "genie" is out of the bottle, and the capabilities become available to anyone who can afford the 3-D printer, know how to use the 3-D printer to make parts, etc. That seems to limit the problem to people of reasonably well-off finances and reasonably intelligent abilities. (And as someone else already noted - it would be far easier/cheaper to buy the real thing than to try to make one!
As for amateurs using 3D printers to manufacture unlicensed guns, remember that a competent machinist can make almost any firearm by old fashioned metal working tehcniques.
What is more scary is that a gun made of non-metallic materials like plastics would escape metal detectors. Such a gun would not even have to be particularly good or durable to serve quite adequately for any number of crimes.
Not even the most conservative pro-gun Supreme court justices have said that the "right to bear arms" is unlimited and absolute, any more than "free speech" allows fraud or "freedom of religion" allows human sacrifice. Carrying your position to its ultimate conclusion, why can't I as a physicist (in principle) set up a uranium isotope separator in my basement to built a you-know-what? Of course it would be used only for personal self defense and sport.
Beth: You said "As much as I found this example pretty compelling from the standpoint of what the technology is capable of, I definitely am not on board with giving people the tools to produce their own firearms or other weapons. Laws or no laws, it just opens the door to bad behavior."
Why do you want to take away 3D printers from people? People with access to solid modeling CAD programs and 3D printers are only limited by their imaginations as to what they can create. If you were granted access to a 3D printer, are you willing to say no, because you know you might make a weapon with it and try to kill someone? Are Legos the only project material you would propose people have available? The ability to make a weapon, or an engine for a car that can exceed the speed limit doesn't mean that the person owning a weapon or a fast car will chose to hurt another person or break the traffic laws. Knowledge, experience, and understanding of weapons and fast cars will do more for respect vs. fear for those items and foster are better educated and knowledgeable society.
Most of these posts are invalid concerns about unconstitutional laws.
According to the constitution, all 'gun control' laws are unconstitutional - yes we need to guard against incompetent people having access to guns.
The reason we still have guns is because we already had and have guns - and this is true for all our rights - our founders were so smart - surely way smarter than we are today!
As much as we would like to think differently, we are corrupt at the base, and only controlled by force. The government controls us by force and we accept it. The government is also people (probably of the worst kind). We also must control them by force or the threat of force or our freedoms are gone. Please do not be fooled!
In many engineering workplaces, there’s a generational conflict between recent engineering graduates and older, more experienced engineers. However, a recent study published in the psychology journal Cognition suggests that both may have something to learn from another group: 4 year olds.
Conventional wisdom holds that MIT, Cal Tech, and Stanford are three of the country’s best undergraduate engineering schools. Unfortunately, when conventional wisdom visits the topic of best engineering schools, it too often leaves out some of the most distinguished programs that don’t happen to offer PhD-level degrees.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.