If you think 3D printers have given would-be gun controllers the vapors already, just wait until you hear the latest from Cody Wilson, the head honcho of Defense Distributed. He told reporters at the Inside 3D Printing Conference in New York City that the group's latest project — a gun made entirely with 3D-printed parts (except for a metal firing pin) — is just weeks away from success. If Wilson and company can deliver on the promise, it would be an important step beyond their already impressive accomplishments in producing functioning AR-15 lower receivers and "high-capacity" magazines for AR-15s and AK-style rifles. It would also be an unmistakable message to government officials that gun control laws are becoming ever-more unenforceable.
For Cody Wilson, the world's most notorious 3D printing gunsmith, it all started with a simple question: "Can you use a 3D printer to print a gun?" The answer to that question might come sooner than anybody expected, as Wilson says he will 3D-print an entire handgun in just a couple of weeks.
If Wilson does print an entire handgun, he will reach a milestone that many thought couldn't be reached so soon. And he will also throw a monkey wrench into not only the broader gun control debate, but also into recent legislative efforts to limit the use of 3D printers to make weapons.
Yesterday, the controversial founder and director of Defense Distributed, a non-profit that he launched to explore the possibility of manufacturing weapons with 3D printers, was in Manhattan to talk at the Inside 3D Printing Conference. After a panel on how copyright affects the 3D printing industry, he confirmed to Mashable what he had already hinted at before: that what was once unthinkable — a gun entirely made of 3D-printed parts — is actually right around the corner.
Will it work? Wilson thinks it will, and it won't be just a one-shot wonder it will be able to fire a few shots before melting or breaking.
Some critics of Defense Distributed's efforts have pointed to the limitations of the materials used by all but the highest-end 3D printers as imposing barriers to creating a full firearm, at least at the current state of technology. But CNet separately reports Wilson's claim that "he and others successfully fired 11 rounds through a 3D-printed gun barrel not long ago." The trick seems to be that Defense Distributed is creating an all-new design around the material (ABS plastic) rather than trying to print parts for an existing firearm design.
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