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3D printer customer intended to print replica gun

October 8, 2012

Plans to print replica gun using 3D printer halted by printer’s manufacturers.

BBC News reports that a project by US group Defense Distributed that aimed to print a replica gun using 3D printing technology has been stopped by the printer’s manufacturer, Stratasys.

The Wiki Weapon project planned to develop a printable gun and share the weapon blueprints online, with Defense Distributed raising $20,000 (€15,145) to get the project started. The project’s website stated that it “could very well change the way we think about gun control and consumption…How do governments behave if they must one day operate on the assumption that any and every citizen has near instant access to a firearm through the internet?”

As it is illegal in the US to manufacture guns at home without a licence, upon discovering Defense Distributed’s plans with the 3D printer, Stratasys halted the project and collected the printer. It also wrote a letter to Cody Wilson, founder of Defense Distributed, stating it had decided to put an end to the project “based on your lack of a [firearms] licence and your public statements regarding your intentions in using our printer”.

The letter continued: “It is the policy of Stratasys not to knowingly allow its printers to be used for illegal purposes. Therefore please be advised that your lease of the Stratasys uPrint SE is cancelled at this time.”

Marc Goodman, head of the Future Crimes Institute, spoke of the potential issues that 3D printing and other technology could bring: “This appears to be a grey area under US law and the laws of other countries. The question is: how do you control technology that can do illegal things?

“In this case, this was being done very overtly and trying to prove a point. I am far more concerned about the people who aren’t publicising it.”

Goodman added that the issue extends to copyright infringement, stating: “It will be the next frontier in IP [Intellectual Property] theft when you are able to manufacture a Rolex watch, Gucci handbags, Nike sneakers.”

This view is shared by Tech.pinions blogger Steve Wildstrom, who wrote in March of his concerns regarding 3D printing and IP rights.

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