An early glimpse into the narrowing of the dream of the open-source, anything-goes world of 3D printing, via Ars Technica:
A Danish company that sells 3D printer component parts and related software to 3D printer manufacturers now says it has come up with a firearm component detection algorithm.
On Tuesday, Create it Real announced that in the coming months its software would include an option to find and block gun parts. When it detects a file that contains firearm parts, the software will shut down and disallow printing….
"In Europe there are laws around manufacturing firearms—if it becomes too easy to just press print, who is responsible?" Jeremie Pierre Gay, the company's CEO, said to Ars. "That is the concern of the manufacturer. They want to get rid of this responsibility. In general, our software works like an antivirus [program], we have a central database [where] we collect all the files that are firearms."….
Gay declined to explain precisely how his detection algorithms work, other than to say they involve a "combination of geometrical features." For now, this software is only available for Create it Real's hardware—but the executive noted that he would be happy to license it to other software developers.
Of course, any techical possiblility–even a self-limiting one–offered for sale in a market to willing customers is OK by me, in a "I wouldn't wave my hand and make it disappear" way. But it would be sad if this is the beginning (as the market in home 3D printers centralizes more, with Makerbot's purchase by Stratasys) of a norm in these machines that is DRMed and limited like a locked phone or DVD player, where it's only easy to do the limited set of things the sellers of the device want you to do.