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NPR Wades In On The 3D Printed Gun Question

NPR has recently waded in on the 3D printed gun question.  The radio juggernaut interviewed several 3D printing companies [and their owners/operators] concerning their thoughts and policies concerning 3D printed gun blueprints.

Indeed, “some companies are using gun-blocking software to deter people from printing functional guns…major 3D printing company Sculpteo has banned firearm printing, saying it doesn’t want to be associated with weapon manufacturing.  And Materialise, a publicly traded 3D printing manufacturer and software developer, has launched a feature to block the production of guns.”

This is all because, as Law Professor Tom Baker at the University of Pennsylvania explains, “the idea of a plastic gun slipping through a metal detector is a real fear.  And if a 3D printed gun got in the wrong and someone used it to carry out violence, there could be an avalanche of lawsuits brought against the makers of 3D printing machines.”

Now, however, even “lawmakers” in Washington are pretending to do something about this: “two bills have been introduced in the Senate ‘hoping’ to make it harder for people to use printers to create fully functional guns.”

However, there are some who were interviewed by NPR who describe the entire situation as, to quote the Bard: “a whole bunch of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”  Walt Barger, who is Manager of Printing Operations at high-tech makerspace company NextFab in Philadelphia, explains: “the threat is being overblown.  Printing out a fully functional 3D printed gun isn’t a cakewalk.  You might have to spend $10,000 on a printer.  You need technical chops and hours and hours of trial and error.”

Max Lobovsky, who is CEO of Formlabs, “a billion-dollar 3D printing company out of Massachusetts” adds: “the day when making a homemade gun takes hitting the play button on a desktop 3D printer is far away from now.  I don’t think anyone is particularly close [to producing a fully functional 3D printed firearm.]  I mean, I think at least 10 to 15 years.”

Still, worry looms over the question…

Image and Quotes Courtesy of NPR

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