Well put. I agree completely with the ridiculousness of the upper/lower receiver distinction. My hunch is that this developed from the fact that, in many cases, the lower receiver controls the rate of fire (full vs. semi automatic) which was used as the distinction between "legitimate" firearms and assault rifles. Obviously this definition is somewhat flawed.
I don't want to trivialize the effects of gun violence, but printing assault weapons won't flood the streets with weapons of mass destruction. Any citizen can go to the hardware store right now and get everything they need to make slew of pipe bombs and cause some serious mayhem. The REAL cause of violence isn't the availability of weapons, but the social, economic, and mental health factors that make people behave violently. Any serious effort to control gun violence (or any other type) should worry less about the availability of weapons and more about the root causes.
My first reaction to this article and many of the comments are impolite and unprintable. Let's start, then, with a few basics of firearms. Even the lowly .22 cartridge requires a metal chamber and barrel to contain the heat and pressure of the propellant gasses, and centerfire rifle and pistol cartridges even more so. Engineers, do the math! Chamber pressures range from 40,000 to 80,000 pounds per quare inch (psi), and the temperature of the expanding gasses is on the order of 2100 degrees Kelvin. Simply put, an "all-plastic" gun would instantly and catastrophically fail. What the author and makers have failed to to disclose is precisely how much metal is actually employed, and where it is--e.g. the chamber, barrel and breach. All firearms require high-strength steels to conatin the pressures and temperatures of the cartridge--this is an incontrovertible fact. The discussion of "plastic guns" concerns only the fabrication of what is often termed "the furniture". I do realize that that the "lower reciever" is the part recognized to constitute the "firearm", but this was the invention of idiotic bureaucrats in an era of all-metal guns. The minimally-structural lower reciver that merely supports a fully-structural barrel/reciever/breach appears to be the "invention" of record. This is truly much ado about nothing. As an aside, I would be interested to see a demonstration of a 100% printed gun (behind a shield, of course)!
If this was sooo boring perhaps yourself and the 250 friends you have so kindly spoken for should have been inteligent enough to stop reading. more over you continued to waste your time writing a rant about afformentioned boring article.
3d printing is on the verge to becoming one of the next big revolutions in prototyping and manufacturing, get used to hearing about it!
No, I'm not happy that people will be able to make their own guns that much more easily. But what is by far, the most disturbing is the KIND of weapons that can be easily fabricated. Assault, fully automatic, melee, even ultra-high capacity magazines for existing weapons. All the illegal stuff. This isn't funny. And the difficulty in preventing the proliferation of proven, working designs is spine-chilling. Trivialize this at the risk of real mayhem.
Weapons have several uses: hunting, exercising terror & compulsion over others (by government and lone or organized sociopaths), and defense against the latter and tyranny by freedom-loving individuals. None of these is going to change by hysterically banning printed weapons.
Ho flippin' Hum. Can we get back to covering ENGINEERING and DESIGN issues and quit playing with milky-toast lamby-pie leftist political worries?? I am not joking. Every engineer & designer I know [roughly 250] really find this kind of article/commentary a complete waste of 1's and 0's. B O R I N G and Irrelevant. Grow up already.
@Cabe: Organized crime has no problem operating chop shops for stolen cars, so I don't think they'd have any problem making receivers for firearms, if they were so inclined. They probably already have the equipment. An AK-47 receiver is a relatively simple stamping. If there were money in making them, they'd be doing it already.
Right now, it's so easy for organized criminals to get illegal weapons that they have no motivation to make them themselves. I don't see this situation changing in the near future.
I could be wrong, but I don't think gangs are going to be buying up 3D printers anytime soon.
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