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3D Printing Goes Ballistic

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If you’ve read some of my previous posts on 3D printing, you know I’m a big fan of what the maker movement means, creatively, economically, and ontologically.

If you’re not up to speed on 3D printing and the ecosystem that’s rapidly cropping up around it, check out Make Magazine or MakerBot. It’s a huge movement that is rapidly integrating with other online creative communities. You can even design something in the popular online game Minecraft, for example, and print it in 3D with an application called Printcraft.

At a very high level, the maker ecosystem reminds me of the old Platonic concept of ideal forms, downloaded from an incorporeal space of perfect, unitary objects and made immanent in multiple iterations of imperfection in our world. All things imaginable are possible, or will be soon.

One anticipated and/or feared sci-fi outcome of the 3D printing revolution was that we would be able to one day download and print out weapons (I even alluded to it in a sci-fi short story I posted here some time back), and lo and behold, the future is here.

According to this article on WebUrbanist, the first 3D printed gun has been fired. Here are images of the parts and of the gun in action:

The plans for the gun were made available by a site called DEFCAD, an offshoot of an organization called Defense Distributed, which is apparently devoted to providing 3D plans for objects prohibited from sites like MakerBot.

The Feds are up in arms a bit about the gun, as one would expect. Any DIY movement that skirts the mechanisms of social control (i.e., laws) is likely to be curtailed, but the gun to me is a watershed for the movement: 3D printing gets a little more real, it gets some teeth, it gets dangerous.

Whether that’s good or bad depends upon your perspective. Either way, it was inevitable, and it points to the growing sophistication of the technology and the movement.

Author: Eric Kingsbury

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