Why you should be excited (and wary) about 3D printing

Print your own Boomstick!

A lot of the attention, not to mention controversy, that focused on 3D printing happened in 2013 when the design for the first 3D-printable working plastic gun was made open source and released online by Defense Distributed.

Even though the US government made the designers take the plans off their site, thanks to the Internet, designs for the “Liberator” are still floating around in cyberspace for the industrious DIY firearms enthusiast. So now 3D hobbyists all over the world are armed (sorry, couldn’t resist) with the tools to make their own plastic handguns. Like this Japanese fellow, who posted videos of himself operating some of his six printed guns and ended up being arrested.

Homemade plastic handguns pose a real threat to safety - they are undetectable by metal detectors and can be assembled by any nut with a 3D printer and an internet connection. Sure, they can’t do much without bullets, but having a working gun is already one uncomfortable step closer to killing someone than not having a gun.

So that’s why the latest rise of 3D printing has governments worried - its economical and technological benefits come with the risk of uncontrolled and widespread gun ownership. Even with regulation, gun-related violence is often on the top of news, so we can only imagine the chaos if schoolchildren started printing their own guns and bringing them to school. We can only hope that this risk doesn’t tarnish the image of the technological renaissance that 3D printing has recently attained, and governments don’t start banning 3D printers altogether.

More after the break...

Are you a 3D believer yet?

As with any technological game-changer, the future of 3D-printing is exciting and uncertain. With so much of it being open-source, the next great leap in the sector could come from hobbyists instead of the tech industry.

And who knows - perhaps human clones were never actually meant to be incubated, perhaps they were meant to be printed. We’re just looking forward to the day that we can print contraceptives at home - you get tired of cashiers judging you.

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