If I Could Print Anything, I'd Print A Gun Oct 08, 2012 14:37 by Matt Bird
You never hear of the downsides of 3D printing though, and if there’s something soon available to the home user that means I could have the Kalashnikov of my dreams, surely someone should take notice!
The Dark Side Of 3D Printing
A recent US group attempted to create a “Weapons Project”, intending to use a 3D printer to produce firearms for the standard home. It may sound crazy, but astoundingly it is perfectly legal for someone to manufacture a gun at home without a license.
Herein lies the problem – manufacturing. Up until now, a law needn’t have existed for manufacturing your own gun as, due to the intricate nature of their internal workings, it was simply impossible for an average home user to produce one. 3D printers change that, making the complicated incredibly simple.
In this event, luckily, the company supplying the 3D printer caught wind of their intentions and cancelled the order, but that won’t always be possible. Without any attention you could theoretically see the majority of households in the developed world having access to a firearm – and the ability to produce ammunition. At least it might limit burglary rates…
Why Stop At Weaponising The Masses
3D printing will likely be the next Intellectual Property legal nightmare, allowing the production of a significant number of speciality goods. Clothing, furniture, electric components… anything that is manufactured would be liable to duplication by a 3D printer.
It’s not too far-fetched to see 3D printing influencing the whole supply chain:
- Manufacturing. The consumer has a choice between self production or heading to the shops.
- Retailing. Why visit the Early Learning Centre when you can print the latest toy at home
- After Sales Support. Product damaged? Use your 3D printer to fix it!
It may seem a slight overreaction, but imagine companies that specialise in relatively simple goods; hobbyist firms such as Games Workshop and Hornby, with solid components that have a unique external design, would be at massive risk. All it would take is one 3D scan of an object with the resulting ‘blueprint’ being placed on a file sharing site and suddenly you’re competing with home-produced versions of your product, either for personal use or for sale.
The optimist may point out that a strong/clever company will see an opportunity and innovate; think of a certain Mr Jobs and iTunes with digital music. Who’s to say the next blue chip company won’t spawn from providing blueprints for 3D printing projects.
Ultimately, it takes one quick Google of “Amazing Minecraft Creations” to see what a humans creative genius can accomplish when it gets a medium… and 3D printing promises to be one of the best mediums yet.