Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Additive Manufacturing (3D Printing), Gun Control, and Patent Law

Soulskill posted about 2 years ago | from the if-we-outlaw-printers-then-only-outlaws-will-have-printers dept.

Printer 380

retroworks writes "J.D. Tuccille of the conservative think tank Reason Foundation discusses last week's news about the first working 3D-printed gun. According to the original article, the partly plastic '.22-caliber pistol, formed from a 3D-printed AR-15 (M16) lower receiver, and a normal, commercial upper' fired 200 rounds without any sign of wear and tear. Tuccille takes the discovery in the direction of politically topical gun control. '...the development makes it clear that a wide range of bans, restrictions and prohibitions are becoming increasingly unenforcable.' But in my mind, this example of additive-manufacturing technology raises even more questions about patent law enforcement. Will 3D printing be to the Anti-gray-market-alliance what online porn became to neighborhood blue laws?"

cancel ×

380 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Already happening (5, Insightful)

jmorris42 (1458) | about 2 years ago | (#40830555)

This fight is already happening. What do ya think the whole war over software patents boils down to? Is it a patentable machine or a copyrightable expression in code? Well soon it will be everything is downloadable and where is the line? That is the heart of this argument in a nutshell.

Re:Already happening (1)

freeze128 (544774) | about 2 years ago | (#40830679)

If the files for the equipment are parametric, does that mean that they cannot be copyrighted?

Re:Already happening (2, Insightful)

Smidge204 (605297) | about 2 years ago | (#40830841)

Copyright the plans, patent the actual device.

Patents are supposed to cover a particular arrangement of components that perform a specific task. Even a parametric design would still have the same fundamental arrangement of major components and perform the same task. You can patent that.

Then you can copyright the script that generates the device with the given parameters.
=Smidge=

Re:Already happening (4, Insightful)

CastrTroy (595695) | about 2 years ago | (#40831323)

The problem is, how do you enforce the patent when people are printing the devices in their basement. You can't go after someone for releasing plans they drew up themselves, as long as they aren't a copy of your originals, and even if they were, the plans are just downloadable files, and we know how well that's working out for the movie and music industries. You can't go after the people producing the items, because there are just in their basements, and you have no way of tracking who is printing off the devices for personal use. I'm not saying it's all bad, but it definitely makes things interesting for companies that produce things that can be printed out on a 3D printer at home.

Legality of Personal Use (1)

Bananatree3 (872975) | about 2 years ago | (#40830813)

I am trying to remember the exact citation, but I remember it is legal to make any item or use any process that's been patented as long as it's not shared and for personal use only. The question is then, does the shape file describing an object legal? I presume so, as long as one doesn't sell or share the object in question.

Re:Legality of Personal Use (0)

gl4ss (559668) | about 2 years ago | (#40830843)

I am trying to remember the exact citation, but I remember it is legal to make any item or use any process that's been patented as long as it's not shared and for personal use only. The question is then, does the shape file describing an object legal? I presume so, as long as one doesn't sell or share the object in question.

it's legal to use patented(by others) items made by yourself for research purposes. but not for work(or intended purpose).

of course if you add something meaningful or modify the original enough for it to be a new invention, it ceases to be an issue.

Re:Legality of Personal Use (2)

jmorris42 (1458) | about 2 years ago | (#40830889)

> of course if you add something meaningful or modify the original enough for it to be a new invention, it ceases to be an issue.

Nope. You can patent your addition but you will still need to license the underlying patent to sell your improvement.

Re:Legality of Personal Use (2)

steveg (55825) | about 2 years ago | (#40831035)

No.

No it doesn't.

If your method incrorporates the previously patented method, then you are subject to that patent. If you truely added something new, you can patent your innovation. But that doesn't mean you can *build* it. You might have to get the permission of the original patent holder before you can do that.

Of course, he can't add your patented innovation into what he's building without your permission. That's where a lot of cross-licensing agreements come from.

Now maybe his invention inpired you to do something completely different, in which case these restrictions wouldn't apply, but adding to or transforming a previous invention still leaves you subject to its patent.

Re:Already happening (1)

mcgrew (92797) | about 2 years ago | (#40831245)

Well soon it will be everything is downloadable and where is the line?

It wioll be quite a while before you can download food and drink, the #2 and #3 important things in anyone's life.

I'll bet manufacturers are shitting their pants over home printed things... but then, you can only print plastics at this point. When you can download and print a whole car, hell yes I'll pirate a car!

The UK has some lead time on this (5, Insightful)

EdgePenguin (2646733) | about 2 years ago | (#40830595)

As guns are far more strictly controlled over here, and as such you can't obtain the parts that you can't home make, this doesn't really apply to the UK or other countries that don't have everybody armed to the teeth.

...but its only a matter of time really. I actually like gun control laws, but I can't see any way they can be enforced, long term, in light of this kind of technology - without banning the technology outright, which would be like banning home computers in the 1970s. Obviously, the people who have a stake in selling people stuff they may be able to manufacture themselves in the near future are going to love this. Moral panics are always useful for promoting a ruthless, rent seeking economic agenda, as the debate over digital rights has shown.

Re:The UK has some lead time on this (3, Informative)

0100010001010011 (652467) | about 2 years ago | (#40830629)

I don't get the article. People have been making guns for a while. Making them on forges you could build in your garage. Anyone with a half assed machine shop could build almost anything.

Then you get guys like this guy [geekosystem.com] that build stuff like the Puzzle Gun.

Re:The UK has some lead time on this (3, Insightful)

EdgePenguin (2646733) | about 2 years ago | (#40830665)

Doing it with a machine shop requires time, skill, and more importantly a machine shop. The future that could threaten the effectiveness of gun control is one where desktop devices could produce enough parts of a gun that whatever is left over can be obtained legally in your jurisdiction - and the only entry requirement will be the desktop device itself and an internet connection.

Re:The UK has some lead time on this (5, Insightful)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | about 2 years ago | (#40830859)

Improvised firearms have been made by pure amateurs for years. The fact of the matter is that most people don't want a gun bad enough to take the risks involved in making their own. However, the whole problem with gun control laws is that people who want a gun for criminal purposes aren't really bothered by those risks (they want the gun to reduce the risk of an already high risk activity).

Re:The UK has some lead time on this (5, Insightful)

EdgePenguin (2646733) | about 2 years ago | (#40830981)

You don't hear home-made firearms being used in crimes much - I'm guessing because the discipline required to make something of high enough quality that it can stand firing a bullet is not normally found in the same individual as the kind of impulsiveness normally required to commit a violent crime.

The issue here is the possibility of obtaining firearms with no requirement for discipline, training, patience, or anything else that might lower a chances person of using that firearm in anger.

Re:The UK has some lead time on this (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40831157)

You don't because you, along with the rest of Slashdot, live in and pay exclusive attention to, first world countries. This 3D printed gun thing has set off a spate of gun control articles with the attendant hand wringing and claims that people will now be enabled to perpetrate all sorts of violence.

Meanwhile hundreds of people will be killed this week throughout the middle east and most of Africa with guns that were made in a tent by someone with no formal training in machining, who probably can't read or write, and has never seen even a conventional printer let alone a 3D one. He'll make a dozen AK 47s today and tomorrow and so on until someone kills him or he has to pack up and flee or some similar thing. This has been going on like this for dozens of years. When I was stationed in Africa the bulk of AKs we recovered after fights were made in part or often in whole, in country in the manner described above. An important factor in the design of the AK was that it could be made that way.

But continue on fretting someone printing an AR lower.

Re:The UK has some lead time on this (1)

EdgePenguin (2646733) | about 2 years ago | (#40831187)

I was aware of mass cloning of AKs - but again, the same question comes up. If it is so easy to do this, why isn't every gang in London driving around with home made AKs? They would certainly like to.

Re:The UK has some lead time on this (1)

nschubach (922175) | about 2 years ago | (#40831333)

Criminals are lazy. (Only the rare criminal is not.) They want easily acquired goods and they if they aren't willing to work for those goods, what makes you think they will work to make tools when they can usually steal them?

If you had access to a bicycle in a store (or down the street where you can easily take it) or you were forced to make your own, which would you do? Now, what would a criminal do?

Re:The UK has some lead time on this (1)

nschubach (922175) | about 2 years ago | (#40831395)

Sorry. My half ass approach to writing up a response led to me leave in words where they make no sense. Remove: first 'they' in "goods and they if they aren't"

Re:The UK has some lead time on this (1)

CubicleZombie (2590497) | about 2 years ago | (#40831439)

Home made, as long as your home has the tooling given to your country by the former Soviet Union. It's not like someone is going to hammer out an AK-47 on their anvil.

Re:The UK has some lead time on this (5, Insightful)

nschubach (922175) | about 2 years ago | (#40831215)

I'm pretty pro-gun, but you don't hear of them using homemade weapons because machines weapons are generally easy to get. If they were not, people would be building more pipe bombs and other easy to assemble/deploy weapons. In countries where guns are not as prevalent people resort to other tools to perform crimes. Sadly, as much as guns are portrayed as deadly, other homemade weapons can be far more deadly.

Re:The UK has some lead time on this (5, Informative)

vlm (69642) | about 2 years ago | (#40830955)

Doing it with a machine shop requires time, skill, and more importantly a machine shop.

As a guy with a machine shop, rest assured it doesn't require much of the above.

If you want minimum weight, maximum reliability, all kinds of nifty features including safeties and such, OR if you want to make a precise exact working replica of a historical piece accurate to the tiniest detail, then it takes huge time, skill, and tools.

But if you're just trying to make what amounts to a short range inaccurate "zip gun" or little more than a shotgun, its trivial, you don't need a "shop". An imaginative plumber can figure something out without a "shop" or gunsmithing skills.

The AR-15 aspect is important to those who know anything about the law or gunsmithing (I know just enough about both to be dangerous). There is no single part of a gun that screams "gun" so the legal types selected the receiver, which in most guns is a great decision, HOWEVER the AR-15 lower receiver is a not terribly difficult part to make.

Making a AR-15 lower is pretty easy (well, compared to making a upper, or a barrel). Making a lower is, legally, making a gun. The hard parts to make are everything that bolts onto a lower. Therefore its really easy to "make a AR-15".

I'm just a hack of a machinist but if I wanted I could easily make a lower on my CNC mill. There is no way in hell, no way, not gonna happen that I could make a barrel from scratch, thats basically impossible for a guy at home. Making a bolt, bolt carrier or chamber would be right around the absolute peak of my skill on my best day in the shop ever.

Re:The UK has some lead time on this (1)

EdgePenguin (2646733) | about 2 years ago | (#40831013)

This begs the question then - why is there not more crime committed with crude, homemade firearms, especially in places like Europe where - based on what you said - it would be fairly trivial to arm yourself with such?

Re:The UK has some lead time on this (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40831195)

No it doesn't. It raises the question.

Re:The UK has some lead time on this (1)

Fned (43219) | about 2 years ago | (#40831217)

Do you have any idea how much crime in Europe is committed with handmade firearms?

No?

I don't either, but as for myself, I'd admit that and hit Google before forming any opinions about it. YMMV.

Re:The UK has some lead time on this (2)

fredprado (2569351) | about 2 years ago | (#40831325)

Because it is easy to buy real guns.

Re:The UK has some lead time on this (2)

lostfayth (1184371) | about 2 years ago | (#40831335)

in such places, ammunition is typically regulated as well. that same length of pipe needed to serve as the barrel is far easier to simply club someone with.

it truly is dead simple. in fact, you can likely find a zip gun of sorts and ammunition at your local hardware store in the form of a .22 nail gun. modified slightly, it would be rather intimidating at close range.

Re:The UK has some lead time on this (2)

vlm (69642) | about 2 years ago | (#40831419)

Everything's a cost benefit ratio. Whats the cost of a POS handgun on the streets vs how long would it take to mfgr something?

You still need ammo. Weirdly enough if ammo is scarce/expensive you want a real good gun not a POS, to get best advantage of the limited resource.

I've heard in Europe the law really comes down hard on homemade firearms... like the only punishment worse than homemade firearm possession is premeditated murder. Not being complete idiots the criminals react appropriately and use knifes and clubs on each other and on the non-criminals.

Frankly given a piece of pipe, you're better off using it as a club in europe than sticking a cap on one end and a shotgun shell and some other stuff.

Re:The UK has some lead time on this (1)

rickb928 (945187) | about 2 years ago | (#40831447)

Wel, the 'solution' for government is to give up on regulating homemade firearms, and regulate ammo. for instance, powder.

Which will lead 'us' to either find other propellants, or other government.

Or both.

Re:The UK has some lead time on this (2)

realityimpaired (1668397) | about 2 years ago | (#40831469)

This begs the question then - why is there not more crime committed with crude, homemade firearms, especially in places like Europe where - based on what you said - it would be fairly trivial to arm yourself with such?

Because homemade firearms are dangerous, and people aren't that stupid? When you can pick up a saturday night special for about the same cost as the materials needed to make your own weapon, there's nothing to be gained from making your own weapon.

And despite what you may have heard, it's still fairly easy to get your hands on a weapon in a country where they're prohibited. What leads to less gun crime being committed there is that the criminals don't feel they need to carry one to protect themselves against citizens who have one, not any lack of availability of weapons. One statistic I heard was that there's actually more guns per capita in Canada than there are in the US, thanks to the proliferation of hunters, farmers, and collectors and a less urban population. (I'd google it to see if it's true and post a link, but I'm at work and that kind of thing gets filtered).

Re:The UK has some lead time on this (1)

jmorris42 (1458) | about 2 years ago | (#40830735)

I get it. Downloading stuff is what this whole trend is leading to. Now we download content but still have to get our stuff from Chinese factories while the profits still go to the same mega corps who slap a logo on and charge out the wazoo.

So fear will be used to keep the little people in line. The Soviets feared the printer and photocopier because they were mortal threats to the lie at the heart of their civilization. Our leaders fear this for pretty much the same reason, materialism is the heart of our civilization.

Re:The UK has some lead time on this (2)

jxander (2605655) | about 2 years ago | (#40830741)

Agreed. The "Gun" angle is just to attract attention. People have built guns out of stranger items. [wikipedia.org] There was an article a while back about someone building an AR-15 lower (the 3D-printed part, in the article) out of plastic cutting boards from Target or Walmart. Just whittled them down and taped em together.

If anything, the biggest issue going forward will be "ideas." Companies like Games Workshop, who sell cheap plastic figurines for ridiculous profits, or car dealers who sell little plastic tabs at absurd markup. Once I can scan and print them myself, well ...

Re:The UK has some lead time on this (1)

rufty_tufty (888596) | about 2 years ago | (#40831021)

Once I can scan and print them myself, well ...

Then anything built of plastic becomes "free".
As long as you can recycle the material locally. A bit of heat and you melt down your old stuff yourself. As soon as technology to make plastics from plants matures you can grow new supplies in your back garden.
So we see period where even more and more things are made from plastic (plastic houses may come back on the menu). You can have the latest fashion at zero cost.

But anything made from metal or silicon still needs to be manufactured. Until metal 3D printers become more populous.
So we just need silicon, well I can see that 99% of what we do in electronics now could be done in a general purpose processor and an FPGA, as long as the software is reasonably well written (an Ipod you pay for or the free equivalent - most people choose the free one with it's dodgy UI and sharp edges...).
So it's just solar panels needed, and the motors and sensors for your 3D printers; but I could see those being made on a small scale, nothing too high tech there.

All of which is almost utopian, you can entirely do away with the modern economy and still live in a life of fashion and luxury, but this leaves us with a question of who pays the farmers? Who waits tables and who polices the streets?

Re:The UK has some lead time on this (1)

fredprado (2569351) | about 2 years ago | (#40831375)

Farming can be and will eventually be fully automated. Services based on knowledge will be needed, on the other hand, at least until a proper AI is developed, after which there will be either no humans (if the Machine Apocalypse happens) or we will live in a Utopia where nobody needs to work to live.

Stupid article. (2)

Geoffrey.landis (926948) | about 2 years ago | (#40831017)

I don't get the article.

I don't get the article either. Making a gun using 3-D printing would have no more patent implication than making anything else using 3-D printing. The article is just attached to the gun article to make a bigger bang.

But, they didn't print a gun using 3-D printing. They made all of the parts of the gun except the parts that actually fire bullets. According to some idiotic regulation they found somewhere, apparently the part that the bullet shoots out of isn't defined as the "gun," but nevertheless, in no reasonable use of the word did they actually print a gun.

Re:The UK has some lead time on this (1)

rufty_tufty (888596) | about 2 years ago | (#40830677)

without banning the technology outright, which would be like banning home computers in the 1970s

And as long as not every country bans it then the technology can still advance and leave the Luddites in what will eventually be an economic dead end.
This is another reason why things like SOPA and other international laws are such a bad and scary thing. The idea of diversity is that we are all free to pursue different philosophies. But that's another argument...

Re:The UK has some lead time on this (2)

PortHaven (242123) | about 2 years ago | (#40830683)

It is only a matter of time before someone offers a printable design which requires nothing more than a pre-fab pipe and a few springs from Home Depot...and everything else is printed.

In fact, a fully automatic firearm is easier to manufacture than a semi-automatic, ironically.

Re:The UK has some lead time on this (1)

vlm (69642) | about 2 years ago | (#40831119)

It is only a matter of time before someone offers a printable design which requires nothing more than a pre-fab pipe and a few springs from Home Depot...and everything else is printed.

The "everything else" does not exist, if you're willing to settle for a pretty crude zip gun or a pretty crude single shot shotgun.

Why like that? (2)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 2 years ago | (#40830693)

I actually like gun control laws, but I can't see any way they can be enforced

Why would you LIKE a law that is not enforceable, or wildly ignored?

The effect of such a law is to reduce respect for all laws. When so many laws make so little sense why not simply ignore laws altogether? If you're a criminal all the time why not act like it?

At this post most western countries are at the only real laws remaining are people's own moral compasses, and tax collection laws which are strictly enforced.

Meanwhile governments use the fact that all are criminals to selectively harass those who are against whoever is in power.

Re:Why like that? (0, Redundant)

EdgePenguin (2646733) | about 2 years ago | (#40830783)

A large % of Americans are impulsive, stupid, feel the world owes them and are inclined to get very angry when things don't work out for them. A likely identical proportion of Britons are like this too - the only difference is, my lot can't lay their hands on automatic weapons so easily. So yeah, I like gun control laws.

I have no problems with guns themselves - I was taught to shoot as a child - but every idiot walking around with them just seems to be a recipe for Badness.

Re:Why like that? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40831061)

the only difference is, my lot can't lay their hands on automatic weapons so easily

Nor can Americans. Fully automatic weapons are illegal for the average gun owner, unless you jump through some Federal hoops. It can be done, there are some states which allow it if the Federal process is done.

Wanna guess how many of those legal fully automatic weapons have been used in a violent crime?

My main problem with gun control laws...the definition of a criminal is someone who does not obey the law. So passing MORE laws that criminals will ignore seems really, really asinine to me. Not to mention the whole "prohibition doesn't work" thing...

My half-assed solution to gun crime...use a gun in a felony offense, go to jail for 20 years with no parole, in addition to any other charges. Use a gun to kill someone unlawfully, automatic death sentence. Period.

Punish the criminal, not the tool. If I use a gallon of gas to burn down a house full of people, you gonna outlaw gasoline?

Re:Why like that? (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40831389)

That's asinine. Gasoline has beneficial uses while guns are a "tool" with a single purpose: killing. The only useful purpose for a gun is sustenance hunting, and even that is completely unnecessary in our society.

Re:Why like that? (5, Insightful)

rufty_tufty (888596) | about 2 years ago | (#40830831)

You've got me thinking, could we somehow apply market forces to laws. Only the fittest survive.
I've heard it suggested that there should be a maximum number of laws allowed (and if you want to pass a new one you have to repeal old ones).
How can you have law when it is not possible for even a specialist in the subject to know all the laws and how to apply them correctly. Does not the fact that a lawyer can be a specialist in one area but yet still not know if a law applies to someone not ring that something is fundamentally wrong with the system?
The fact that I am subject to laws that I cannot reasonably be expected to know about sickens me. I can be legitimately expected to be doing illegal things through no fault of my own.
How does that not remove respect for the law?

Re:Why like that? (0)

jmorris42 (1458) | about 2 years ago | (#40831055)

> > I actually like gun control laws, but I can't see any way they can be enforced

> Why would you LIKE a law that is not enforceable, or wildly ignored?

Please do not argue for my team if that is the sort of debating skill you are going to bring to the effort. You cut off the original post's very next words that would supply the answer to your question. They were ", long term, in light of this kind of technology" Since the original wasn't clear enough for you I'll try to make the argument in different words for you. He likes the idea of gun control but in light of the long term trend in tech doesn't believe it is workable. In other words he doesn't like it but thinks the pro gun camp is going to win in the end. I agree with his conclusion but think it a good thing overall instead of lamenting it. You are apparently just confused. :)

We are the good guys, remember? We normally are the ones having to deal with our words being twisted beyond recognition. Lets not adopt their ways, winning isn't worth losing what makes winning worth it.

Re:Why like that? (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 2 years ago | (#40831413)

You miss my point. Ignore the coming technology - gun control laws now are disobeyed. Criminals around the world have guns if they want them. So why like them even now? Why be enamored of any law that weakens all others?

I didn't miss the rest of his question, it just was not relevant to my point.

Re:The UK has some lead time on this (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40830891)

As do I.

To be honest, I think countries really need to step up their game in education and actually teach people about stuff like this.
They aren't going to be sheltered forever. Teach the damn kids what a gun is, why it is dangerous and shouldn't be messed around with, it will take away the mysteriousness about the thing. Same with drugs, alcohol and sex. (these are done already to various extents, but very horribly, ESPECIALLY in the UK! I am ashamed)

The home-manufacturing age is coming. And it is going to change the entire manufacturing industry.
Not teaching kids about it, the gains and dangers, it would be horribly irresponsible.
Of course, don't replace curriculum's with this. Just as a nurse has to learn how to use the old mechanical measuring devices in the case of power cuts, they equally learn about all these new fancy gizmos that can do about 5 jobs in one minute.
So technical classes won't entirely be missing the hammers, the anvils and clamps. They can be aided with a 3D printer in the near future. (as they are still, and will likely remain for a few decades, pretty damn slow)

I hope the government has plans for this technology. I haven't been entirely happy with the way some of the separate groups of the government have handled some things recently, particularly the DWP and ATOS over the whole incapacity benefits mess. But overall they have done fairly good so far.
I hope they have plans to take advantage of this technology and make the countries life easier. So much manufacturing is uselessly spread out too thin, resulting in massive lorries sending around pretty empty boxes around for the sake of protecting them from bumps, oh and a tiny little product in the middle. (sometimes the gap of foam can actually be the same damn size as the products!)
Sending around lorries of manufacturing materials would be far more cost effective.
Then there is exotic material designs. The potential for food-printing is also very interesting. Their is a group right now working on making a printable burger that is both nice to look at and actually taste good, and not some mush or cardboard.
But ignoring it will just cause problems. (just like a considerable bunch of content creators in the media industry at large simply ignoring the internet and even outright denying its use for their clients, they are their own doom by doing this)

Come on Britain, make me proud. The rest of the world too. The potential of saving resources is beyond anything we could even imagine.

Wide range of bans, restrictions and prohibitions? (0)

timeOday (582209) | about 2 years ago | (#40830651)

What wide range of bans, restrictions and prohibitions? It is a demonstrated fact that any kook can get an assault rifle with a hundred round magazine to shoot up a senator, movie theater, etc. And of course tens of thousands of US weapons flood into Mexico for their drug war every year purchased by people who are curiously buying dozens of weapons every month but oh well, they must be collectors. This is a situation we as a society have apparently decided to accept, and I see no movement away from it. So again, what burdensome restrictions are we actually talking about?

Re:Wide range of bans, restrictions and prohibitio (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | about 2 years ago | (#40830881)

Um, those assault weapons that flood into Mexico for their drug war are being sent there by our very own ATF for the purpose of ???(they claim it was in order to track them to the bigwigs with the drug cartels, but, since they weren't actually tracking them, that is not very believable).

Re:Wide range of bans, restrictions and prohibitio (3, Informative)

timeOday (582209) | about 2 years ago | (#40831355)

Um, those assault weapons that flood into Mexico for their drug war are being sent there by our very own ATF for the purpose of ???

Wrong, the ATF didn't send any weapons to Mexico. What they did was try to track a few of the hundreds of thousands of guns purchased every year by individuals with suspicious purchasing patterns. They couldn't track all of them, and some of them in fact ended up being smuggled to mexico or were otherwise used in crimes. That is the "scandal." There would be no scandal if they hadn't bothered trying to track the guns in the first place. It's hard to imagine what an individual who is not a dealer might be doing purchasing hundreds of guns per year, yet that is perfectly legal (just as the NRA likes it) until/unless you later commit a crime with them. Now that the interdiction has become a political football, the flow of guns to Mexico continues as before with, at best, low-level individual purchasers being caught.

Re:Wide range of bans, restrictions and prohibitio (2)

JBMcB (73720) | about 2 years ago | (#40830985)

Your average citizen cannot purchase an assault rifle. You can purchase a semi-automatic rifle that *looks* like an assault rifle. This is, basically, a hunting rifle with a different stock and a flash suppressor, neither of which increases it's lethality, but is sure does look scary.

The extra-large capacity magazines are garbage, and jam more often than not. The military doesn't use them.

Re:Wide range of bans, restrictions and prohibitio (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40831467)

Under federal law you can own whatever NFA items you want, there is just a $200 tax on each item, and you either need to set up a trust ($0-$250 one time fee) or have a chief law enforcement officer in your area sign off on the purchase.

State laws vary on what is allowed.

The only cost prohibitive thing is automatic weapons since the closure of the registry has driven prices up to ridiculous heights.

Re:Wide range of bans, restrictions and prohibitio (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | about 2 years ago | (#40831089)

So again, what burdensome restrictions are we actually talking about?

None, actually -- most responsible gun owners are not upset about being unable to buy automatic weapons or artillery. There are idiots out there who think that having their own machine gun is cool, and they make illegal modifications to a semiautomatic gun, often with dangerous results, like receivers that fall apart. The only people who think that gun control laws in most of America are overly restrictive are people who think they are going to save the neighborhood from criminals and terrorists (and many gun owners, myself included, think that the restrictions are fine or should be amended in sensible ways, like requiring guns to be stored safely).

Handwringing over nothing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40830687)

As someone pointed out in the previous article about this, a functioning lower has been succesfully built out of paper-mâché in the past. Using a 3d printer is merely application of a different construction method. When there's a way to 3d print the upper or bolt and barrel then you can panic.

Re:Handwringing over nothing (1)

trout007 (975317) | about 2 years ago | (#40830929)

You are missing the point. You can buy everything but the receive online without a background check as a replacement part. The receiver is the part that is considered a gun.

Re:Handwringing over nothing (2)

MozeeToby (1163751) | about 2 years ago | (#40830951)

I don't think I could make a lower reciever out of paper mache, or wood, or a CNC mill. All of those take expertice in either firearms or machinery operation that I don't have. Granted, I could learn in a month or two I'm sure I'd be able to do it. But I can, right now, with no training or investigation, push print on a 3d printer. There is a difference.

And the point shouldn't be OMG we need gun control. The point is, gun control is borderline impossible today, but in 10 or 20 years it's going to jump completely into the completely and utterly impossible side of things. We need to prepare for that as a society, not enact another law that makes it illegal to print a gun.

Again, no different then CNC or even a metal file. (4, Insightful)

Kenja (541830) | about 2 years ago | (#40830717)

For a few hundred dollars I can make a CNC mill and craft a gun out of a block of metal. Frankly, I can do much the same with a metal file. Same goes for patent infringement. Add in a 3D scanner and I can duplicate just about anything. There is nothing intrinsically special about 3D printers VS other methods of manufacturing. Its just an evolution of mass production.

Re:Again, no different then CNC or even a metal fi (2)

spiffmastercow (1001386) | about 2 years ago | (#40830817)

For a few hundred dollars I can make a CNC mill and craft a gun out of a block of metal. Frankly, I can do much the same with a metal file. Same goes for patent infringement. Add in a 3D scanner and I can duplicate just about anything. There is nothing intrinsically special about 3D printers VS other methods of manufacturing. Its just an evolution of mass production.

Actually, there's something very different between what you're suggesting and 3D printing -- what you say you could do requires time, effort, and skill. 3D printing a gun could become no more difficult than cleaning a gun.

Re:Again, no different then CNC or even a metal fi (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40831029)

3D printing a gun could become no more difficult than cleaning a gun.

But will a gun accidentally discharge while printing it?

Re:Again, no different then CNC or even a metal fi (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40831073)

Well, only if you print it loaded

Re:Again, no different then CNC or even a metal fi (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40831087)

There's only a risk of that if you print it with one in the chamber.

Re:Again, no different then CNC or even a metal fi (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40830823)

Except it goes from being the domain of a skilled hobbyist to that of anyone with a credit card and a "print" button. To be honest, we're not quite there yet, but we'll be at that point soon enough.

Re:Again, no different then CNC or even a metal fi (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40830907)

The inherent difference is the skill level requirement.
3D Printers lower the skill requirement to "Ctrl-P".

Completely different. (1)

scorp1us (235526) | about 2 years ago | (#40830997)

As a machinists son and myself a software engineer, what is happening is with self-fabrication (CNC/file) you have to engineer the piece yourself, within the right tolerences. With 3D printing, you can download a model where all of that is already done for you, and just hit the print button. Maybe you can get the CAD file but you also have to get your hands on the machine, the space, the material and the software and know how to operate it all. The 3D printing in process isn't much different except all of that except for the material, everything is free or substantially lower in cost.

Also note a milling machine has limited axises. A 3D printer has no need for the concept, but instead has minimum detail and minimum wall thickness.

In short the old way is a lto mroe expensive and complicated than 'download, print'.

Re:Again, no different then CNC or even a metal fi (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40831143)

Overly simplistic view is potatoed. printing a picture -vs- drawing a picture. anyone can print a picture, not everyone can draw one.

Re:Again, no different then CNC or even a metal fi (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40831183)

I would have no idea about how to do what you just wrote. I don't even know what a CNC mill is. If 3D printers were common it would take minimal effort to make a gun. So that's a big difference.

Tuccille? (0)

ChrisMaple (607946) | about 2 years ago | (#40830759)

How can that clown be taken seriously on any subject?

Re:Tuccille? (0)

Scareduck (177470) | about 2 years ago | (#40830821)

Why should we take your opinion seriously, when all you have is an ad hominem attack?

Reason is not conservative (3, Informative)

geoffrobinson (109879) | about 2 years ago | (#40830775)

Reason is libertarian.

Re:Reason is not conservative (-1, Flamebait)

EdgePenguin (2646733) | about 2 years ago | (#40830829)

That is odd, considering Libertarians are some of the most emotionally-driven, unreasonable people around :)

Re:Reason is not conservative (1)

Libertarian_Geek (691416) | about 2 years ago | (#40830919)

That is odd, considering Libertarians are some of the most emotionally-driven, unreasonable people around :)

Can you site a study, published report or otherwise verifiable data to support your claim?

Re:Reason is not conservative (1)

EdgePenguin (2646733) | about 2 years ago | (#40830949)

Considering what I just called Libertarians is a set of subjective descriptions, that isn't possible. However, its kind of hilarious for you to assume that Libertarians claims of standing for 'reason' should be considered the null hypothesis - this in itself is pathetically anti-reason.

Re:Reason is not conservative (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40831045)

However, its kind of hilarious for you to assume that Libertarians claims of standing for 'reason' should be considered the null hypothesis - this in itself is pathetically anti-reason.

Can you show me where he assumed that?

Re:Reason is not conservative (0)

EdgePenguin (2646733) | about 2 years ago | (#40831101)

Implicitly, by asking for proof.

You guys are like a cargo-cult. Libertarians know what science and reason sound like, and try to emulate it so people will think their whacko beliefs are somehow supported by science.

Claiming the title 'reason' for your ideological rantings demonstrates you are unwilling to debate. You've made your mind up, convinced yourselves (in this case, that contrary to all the evidence, mass gun ownership is great) and then declared everyone who dares point out the gaping flaws in your argument as irrational.

Re:Reason is not conservative (1)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | about 2 years ago | (#40831237)

Implicitly, by asking for proof.

The fact that he asked you for proof doesn't indicate that he believes the opposite. He could just be someone that values people actually proving what they're claiming for all you know.

You guys are like a cargo-cult.

All of the ones you replied to? You seem to be assuming that anyone who disagrees with you about anything must be part of the "other side." Apparently you can't make an argument that some group of people might make without being part of that group yourself...

and then declared everyone who dares point out the gaping flaws in your argument as irrational.

But of course, they'll believe they're correct, just as you might.

Re:Reason is not conservative (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40831209)

However, its kind of hilarious for you to assume that Libertarians claims of standing for 'reason' should be considered the null hypothesis

Strawman. The null hypothesis here would be that Libertarians are no more or less emotional or unreasonable than anyone else.

Re:Reason is not conservative (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40831247)

Eigth only to Facists, Socialists, Communists, Tyrants, Democrats, Republicans and Danes.

Snowcrash (1)

EnsilZah (575600) | about 2 years ago | (#40831357)

"See, I told you they'd listen to Reason," Fisheye says, shutting down the whirling gun.

Now Hiro sees a nameplate tacked onto the control panel.

REASON

version 1.0B7

Gatling-type 3mm hypervelocity railgun system

Ng Security Industries, Inc.

PRERELEASE VERSION -- NOT FOR FIELD USE

DO NOT TEST IN A POPULATED AREA

- ULTIMA RATIO REGUM -

Hello (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40830789)

Making your own gun can be described as creativity, expressing yourself and freedom of speech follows under the first amendment. Creating your own gun is expressing yourself through your design of the firearm. The second amendment also states the right to bear arms and never mentioned where you must purchase or buy the arms.... I'm pretty sure this action of creating a firearm can be guaranteed under the first ammendment. An individual might have to Engrave their name on the firearm for it to truly be expressing oneself, just that action alone is customizing. And customizing is part of expressing oneself.

"Conservative" (3, Informative)

Scareduck (177470) | about 2 years ago | (#40830807)

J.D. Tuccille of the conservative think tank Reason Foundation

You misspelled "libertarian". There is a significant difference.

Manufacturing no longer capital intensive? (1)

Omnifarious (11933) | about 2 years ago | (#40830887)

So many of our laws, regulatory frameworks and economic system are based around the idea that manufacturing is capital intensive and requires centralization. Once this stops being true, even a little, it throws everything into complete disarray. Seriously. As a random example, how can the FDA regulate drugs if you can easily manufacture arbitrary molecules at home?

The idea that manufacturing isn't capital intensive requires a radical rethinking of the structure of our society.

3D Printers should be illegal. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40830913)

Anything that can be used to make a gun should be criminalized with extended prison sentences. People think it's OK for companies like Makerbot to build killing machines and market them to children?????

Re:3D Printers should be illegal. (0)

konaya (2617279) | about 2 years ago | (#40830959)

This is exactly why I hope that wanker's gun backfires in his face or groin. The 3D printer is a wonderful invention. Don't ruin it by the usual gun-horny Yankee idiot routine!

Re:3D Printers should be illegal. (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 2 years ago | (#40831327)

How is that going to ruin it?

Also if you knew anything about guns you would know that even if the lower totally fails there is zero chance of the gun harming him in that way.

What's Different About 3D Printing is.... (1)

LuxuryYacht (229372) | about 2 years ago | (#40830967)

that anyone can do it. It doesn't require skills in operating a lathe, mill, grinder or other machine or hand tools. Anyone that can download a 3D file can then just press print and they will have an object. A sharp pointy object or printed parts that might be assembled into a firearm.

This the point people tend to miss when they compare 3D printing to a home workshop. The workshop requires skills developed over time and practice to fabricate something as complex as a firearm. Not everyone is capable of doing this. Unfortunately it is a minority these days. A 3D printer in the near future on the other hand will only require the operator to master downloading a 3D model and pressing the print button.

Re:What's Different About 3D Printing is.... (2)

vlm (69642) | about 2 years ago | (#40831057)

It doesn't require skills in operating a lathe, mill, grinder or other machine or hand tools. Anyone that can download a 3D file can then just press print and they will have an object.

I remember reading the same kind of stuff about CNC milling machines, desktop publishing, desktop music production, desktop video production, about 50 bazillion iterations from COBOL to the latest CMS of art history majors claiming that now, those icky computer nerds will no longer be necessary to kept around to write business software...

Its important, it will have an effect, but its not a miracle Star Trek transporter. Hmm maybe thats not so bad of an analogy after all, the best engineer in the fleet was constantly Fing around with the transporter yet it broke ALL THE TIME. Maybe it will be like the transporter after all... It should "just work" every time you push the button, but its never that simple in reality.

Artificial scarcity in our economy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40831001)

This problem has existed for years. The issue is that the cost to design/research/etc is significantly higher than the cost to manufacture/copy which in some cases can be free. Many business simply don't support a model that can handle this reality and thus have to find ways to artificially limit or control how the manufacturing/copying is done. This can be seen with eBooks or mp3s which are completely free to copy and nearly free to distribute but the price is driven up artificially due to legality issues or other controls.

3D printers have a long way to go, but what we're more likely to see would be completely automated fabrication shops. Warehouses that are manned with a skeleton crew and several computer driven mills, presses, molds etc that are capable of producing nearly anything and can be completely controlled via a web store such that anyone w/ a cad file can produce the object they desire.

Ultimately, we will either have a large change in business strategies or these businesses will just lock the system down using litigation.

Could shake things up (5, Insightful)

Experiment 626 (698257) | about 2 years ago | (#40831023)

Gun control is to the second amendment what censorship is to the first. These are authoritarian push-backs against the Bill of Rights giving people "too much" freedom. The Internet has shown what happens to such restrictive efforts once an enabling technology is introduced to the masses.

Re:Could shake things up (1)

KingSkippus (799657) | about 2 years ago | (#40831485)

None of the amendments in the Bill of Rights were ever intended to be completely unrestricted. None of them. Do you think you have unfettered freedom of speech? Try calling in a bomb threat to local law enforcement. Do you think you have unfettered freedom of religion? Try convincing a jury that you were simply consummating a marriage to your 12-year-old "bride" in God's eyes. Do you think you have unfettered freedom of the press? Ask Julian Assange, who U.S. authorities would love to get his hands on. Do you think you have unfettered freedom of assembly? Watch some videos of the Occupy Wall Street movement in Zucotti Park.

There absolutely is such a thing as "too much" freedom--when that freedom begins compromising the freedom of others and because a danger to public safety. The Second Amendment says that the right to bear arms will not be infringed. Gun control does not infringe upon your right to bear arms. Total gun bans do. Learn the difference. Just as you don't have the right to use your freedom of speech to incite a riot, instigate terrorism, slander others, etc., no one--not even the Founding Fathers--ever intended for your right to bear arms to include private citizens acquiring weapons with little or no oversight capable of killing mass numbers of people outside the context of the military engaged in armed conflict.

Will people push this using technologies that come out of the Internet? Sure, just as they push freedom of speech and other freedoms today. However, bear in mind that the harder this envelope is pushed, the more severe will be the backlash from everyday schmoes when there are calls to regulate the crap out of the Internet. So be careful what you wish for, you may just get it, and we'll end up with what a lot of people with various agendas are pushing for today, which is basically a government- and/or corporate-run and censored Internet.

Why is this a big deal? (4, Informative)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 2 years ago | (#40831031)

You can make a lower in steel on a mill right now. You could make one from wood, heck even cheap plywood.

This is not a highly stressed part, nor one that needs to be machined to very high tolerances.

It will be news when they can 3d print a barrel.

Re:Why is this a big deal? (1)

Un pobre guey (593801) | about 2 years ago | (#40831171)

The gun component issue of the story is really a red herring. It's there to make it exciting and controversial, not because it has any fundamental importance in itself. As lots of posters have mentioned, there are many ways already to make gun parts. People have been doing it for centuries. IMHO, the patent or copyright enforceability issue is relatively moot also. Anyone can do all sorts of illegal things in the privacy of their home and get away with it. If one is careful, discreet, and harms nobody, it can be done indefinitely. If the authorities discover the activity somehow, then prevailing law is applied. The same thing will occur with 3D printing. Make stuff at home without getting caught and you can do it indefinitely. Make thousands of copies of patented or copyrighted items and sell them at flea markets, and you'll get busted sooner or later. Nothing new here except that it will now be cheap and easy to make things that are far more elaborate or complex than ever before. It is the empowering nature of a generic 3D printer that is the interesting part.

Re:Why is this a big deal? (2)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | about 2 years ago | (#40831317)

You can buy a barrel,no questions asked. Trying to buy a lower receiver involves background checks, permits, waiting periods and so forth. If you can make your own lower receivers, the state's power to intrude on your life is somewhat diminished.

3D-printable gun? (1)

DaKong (150846) | about 2 years ago | (#40831039)

Please, the really creative thinkers will find much better things to do with additive manufacturing. Yes, you *could* employ your 3D printer creating objects that the established powers-that-be know how to defend against. But that's a futile exercise. The brighter lights will understand that asymmetrical warfare (if they're so inclined) is the way to go, and they will design accordingly.

The time is not far off when someone bright within the 99% will figure out that they can enable a quantum leap in human progress by designing something that disintermediates the entirety of the 1%.

Those times are terrifying. They're also terrifically exciting. And they're waiting for you in 6 months.

3D Printing and banned goods (1)

sl3xd (111641) | about 2 years ago | (#40831043)

This raises a very good question: With it becoming easier to manufacture arbitrary goods with a general purpose 'fab-in-a-box', what kinds of goods/materials will be trivially produced at home - whether there are laws against it or not. There are even metal 3d printers, so I really don't see a limit on what can be 3D printed.

I can't help but wonder if this is yet another case of Technology rendering laws obsolete - what good is a gun control law that requires serial numbers & bans automatic weapons when you can just print your own untraceable automatic gun at home?

Banning 3D printing because it "could" be used to make illegal goods is overreaching; it's just too useful to ban because it might be used to make something illegal.

Are we seeing the last days of being able to legislate scarcity of goods?

To pick a politically hot topic: Are gun control laws about to become as obsolete as banning cryptography, where the genie is out of the bottle & can't be stuffed back in?

Re:3D Printing and banned goods (1)

Hatta (162192) | about 2 years ago | (#40831201)

To pick a politically hot topic: Are gun control laws about to become as obsolete as banning cryptography, where the genie is out of the bottle & can't be stuffed back in?

What makes you think they couldn't ban encryption? It would be a lot easier than gun control actually. Encryption is easy to detect. There are legitimate uses for encryption, but the government can just enforce the use of encryption with a back door for the government. Any encrypted data that isn't accessible through this back door would be tracked back to the ISP and the account holder imprisoned.

Would it be perfect? No, but neither is gun control, the war on drug users, or other authoritarian initiatives.

Two years (1)

ThatsNotPudding (1045640) | about 2 years ago | (#40831059)

Two years, tops before all the 3D printer companies are sued into oblivion by IP trolls and greedy corporations. Even open source projects in this relm will have to hosted in more elightened countries (if any still exist by then).

This is bullshit (1)

Animats (122034) | about 2 years ago | (#40831125)

This is bullshit.

First, copyright doesn't cover useful objects. Most of the "grey market" stuff is about brand labels, not the device itself. If you want a mechanical duplicate of a Rolex watch that doesn't say "Rolex", you can buy one legally. (You can even get the same movement made in the same Swiss factory. That's outsourced.) There's a whole third-party auto parts industry, after all.

Second, stereolithography machines are a slow way to make copies of something. Manufacturing techniques for making stamped and molded parts are faster, cheaper, and more accurate. You only bother with stereolithography or machine shop work if you can't buy the thing.

Third, a CNC mill can do most of the things a stereolithography machine can do, and to a much wider range of materials. There are little desktop CNC mills. [rolanddga.com] Laser cutters, though, can turn out flat parts quickly and cheaply. This is why, at TechShop locations, the laser cutters are constantly busy while the stereolithography machines mostly just sit there.

Most of the clueless enthusiasm for stereolithography comes from people who don't do machine shop work.

Nothing spectacular here. (1)

buck-yar (164658) | about 2 years ago | (#40831179)

1. People have been making their own ar15 lowers for a loong time. There are sites with CAD files and everything needed to fabricate your own from a block of metal. Mfg's also sell what's called an 85% lower, which just needs some holes drilled to make it complete (does not require a 4473).

2. The 3d printer is more expensive than the tools needed to finish off an 85%.

Careful (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40831347)

Careful about getting all excited about this. Lawmakers will probably make the printers illegal, in fact, could ban all manufacturing, just to be sure. I hope we can dissuade them from doing that. :-(

Alarmist article is alarmist (1)

onyxruby (118189) | about 2 years ago | (#40831379)

The article is alarmist and inflated. Doing this would require access to a 3D printer which alone would cost far more than the what your trying to make. While 3D printer are great for making small one off parts, they are far from practical for equipping an army. In the real world it would be far cheaper to go out and buy all of your guns than to start making your own in your garage with a 3D printer.

Even if you had a 3D printer (say you stole it) you still have logistical issues like manufacturing parts like the barrel (which many gun manufacturers themselves don't do due to the complexities and quality requirements involved). Your parts would have to durable not to explode under stress from the pressures of firing and precise enough to fit together.

Far easier, cheaper and safer for the law abiding or criminal to get a 'real' gun the old fashioned way. Just like any other matter, logistics dictate that certain things are done certain ways. Homebrew is great for beer, but that doesn't mean co-worker that makes a keg of beer once a month is going to be competing with the big boys anytime soon...

We shouldn't ban 'things' but uses (3, Insightful)

scorp1us (235526) | about 2 years ago | (#40831417)

Short of a radioactive material and toxins, something sitting around does no harm. It is only when something is used that it can do harm. This revolution in manufacturing shows how untenable the approach of "banning" something is. We have to dispense with the idea that prevention of possession is a crime or even possible, and focus solely on damaging uses. In this way we have all the rights and all the responsibility to exercise freedom.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>