3D Printed Weapons, Opensource design, File Sharing, & the Law

Has desktop gunsmithing begun? An online collective calling themselves “Defense Distributed” has put together an initiative whose goal is an opensource database for a 3d printed gun that is design.

They launched an Indiegogo campaign called the “Wiki Weapon Project” to raise $20,000. Indiegogo pulled the campaign citing company policy against fundraising for the sale of firearms. The project intends to make a fully 3-D printed pistol for the first time, though it would likely be capable of only firing a single shot until the barrel melted. The team eventually raised the full amount through it’s own website using Paypal & BitCoin electronic currency & leased a Stratysys printer to prototype their designs.

Stratysys decided they were not comfortable with the use of their machine within the scope of their agreement so they canceled the lease & sent contractors in an Enterprise rental van to seize the printer from the home of Cody Wilson, the 24 year-old second-year law student at the University of Texas at Austin & director of the Defense Distributed.

Although they have already encountered obstacles in their quest, the group’s blog states “You Can’t Stop What’s Coming”.  With the ever growing availability of DIY & prosumer 3D printers that is likely the case. Understandably the laws are a bit vague when it comes to opensource 3d printed weapons. Conflicting language seems to support Defense Distributed’s concept as much as it prohibits it. Why guns when this project could focus on wind energy or some other more “popular” subject?

Their website states:
“Guns prove out some of our younger generations’  beliefs about information and sharing at an extremity. If we truly believe information should be free, that the internet is the last bastion of freedom and knowledge, and that societies that share are superior to societies that censor and withhold, then why not guns?”.

 Although the language & delivery comes off a bit fringe for the mainstream, Wilson makes an interesting point to the “International Kleptocrats” towards the end of his video presentation (approx 6:30) that “this isn’t in your control anymore…you don’t understand the world you’re living in”.

Well let the arguments begin, meanwhile..while you’re debating, projects like this have already happened. I blogged earlier about 3d printed handcuff keys..well you can now buy one on Amazon.

Michael Guslick (aka “Have Blue”) became an online sensation after claiming that he fired over 200 rounds through an AR-15 3d printed plastic lower receiver built from a blueprint database posted on Thingiverse.


Formlabs Enters the Desktop 3D Printer Market

Formlabs has just rolled out their FORM 1 3d printer on Kickstarter.  They have become fully funded in just 2.5 hours ($100,000 goal)!  There are some exceptional differences in this machine compared to the typical FDM & DLP printers out there.  This is SL based technology (stereolithography) using a $10 Blu-Ray laser (same as in hi-def DVD players) for photo exposure versus a $10,000 laser typically found in SLA machines. FORM 1 boasts build resolutions of 25 micron (.001″) in Z & 300 micron (.012″) feature details.  Build envelop is listed at 125 x 125 x 160mm (4.9 x 4.9 x 6.5 inches).  This is a substantial improvement over other desktop printers in its class.  Although this price tier is sold out (higher priced tiers remain at time of this writing) the starting price for the machine was placed at $2,299.  This project is exceptionally well put together & the machine looks to be at a considerably mature design stage. Formlabs states that they have built 7 generations of prototypes & a production run of alpha machines.  They have developed their own software package for build setups & support generation which does not look to be opensource.  No mention of future software/hardware support but the project is already a go so we’ll see how the company & product develops.  Exciting stuff, Love it!

3D Printed Sculptures Made by the Movement of a Swimming Fish

Arts collective panGenerator has created an interesting piece entitled FLOAT.  It has surrounded a fish tank (that has a fish in it) with cameras. They plot the fish’s movements, compile that & turn it into a 3D Printed sculpture.  Exceptionally interesting shapes & patterns made by the random wandering of a fish in it’s prison. Always wonderful to see information in a form we can study & appreciate.  Would like to see this done with a colony of ants, a flock ofstarlings…or us in Times Square.



Large Scale Mobile 3D Printer to Print Architecture

DUS, a Dutch architecture firm, unveiled their KamerMaker (“RoomBuilder”).  It is the first mobile 3D printer with the capacity to print inhabitable pavilions.  The technology is based on the Ultimaker printer (essentially RepRap) but can print as large as 2.2 x 2.2 x 3.5 meters.  It is housed in a giant chrome box that looks as if aliens had plopped down & begun building homes for themselves.  Although arguably not quite large enough yet to build a pavilion in a single go, it could certainly fabricate the pieces for onsite assembly.  The idea is to implement a more local & adaptable design approach, reuse available materials, & offer mobile construction of emergency & temporary shelter.



3d Printed Handcuff Keys Challenge Assumed Security

3d printing handcuff key


German hacker and security consultant who goes by the name “Ray” demonstrated Friday at the Hackers On Planet Earth conference in New York a 3d printed & laser cut keys that open high security handcuffs. He was able to open handcuffs built by the German firm Bonowi and the English manufacturer Chubb who both use a single key design for their products. Although the keys are purportedly harder to come by than more standard cuffs & not commercially available, Ray says he bought a Chubb key from eBay, and obtained the rarer Bonowi key through an unnamed source. He reverse engineered the keys & built CAD models that he then cut in plexiglass with a laser cutter and printed in ABS plastic with a Repman 3D printer.

Ray, says his goal isn’t to reduce security but to expose the vulnerability. He states, that his tools are already available to criminals along with the rest of the public.  “If someone is planning a prison or court escape, he can do it without our help.” says Ray. He says he won’t  post CAD models online, given that those keys are harder to obtain and providing models for their reproduction could in fact reduce their real-world security. But their availability should serve as a wake-up call. The cuffs’ applications include restraints for airplane passengers & plastic keys can easily be carried through airport security.  “People who have a high value goal don’t mind the cost of using a higher cost method. Someone with a higher criminal goal doesn’t care if it takes one dollar or one hundred dollars to make this key” he says.  “Lock security was broken before. I’ve just made it easier.”

I submit that the zip tie style thumb cuffs are just as effective & cheaper than the old-timey metal ones particularly now that the keys are so easily reproduceable. Hey, you could print the zip ties too!

Is the 3D Printed “DESIGNED TO WIN” the World’s Fastest Shoe?

French-born engineer and designer Luc Fusaro, a student at the Royal College of Art in London, claims he has invented the world’s fastest running shoe. Using 3d scans, the “Designed to Win” shoe is designed around the unique shape of a runner’s foot, weighs 96 grams, and  it can improve performance by as much as 3.5% (about .35 seconds in a 100-meter dash).  The shoe is not designed for long distance but for sprinter’s that time is the difference between silver and gold.  Unfortunately it will not be available for the upcoming Olympics but Fusaro hopes to have it ready for the 2016 games.


Meet Burritob0t, 3d printed burritos in minutes… 3D Print Your Breakfast

Burritob0t is the thesis project of grad student Marko Manriquez at NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program at the Tisch School of the Arts. This is in many respects similar to the Cornucopia.  I’m skeptical if the world’s first 3d printed burrito has happened yet or if this is just concept but I am so hungry.  Mmmm, extruded piles of beans, cheese, guacamole & sour cream. Imagine the implications in the fast food industry & @ 2am when you’ve maybe had too many drinks…instant burrito! Enjoy.


Scanners, Gesture Control, & High Precision 3D Interaction…Oh My!

Inline with the recent advances of the ReconstructMe software package that turns your Microsoft Kinect into a 3D scanner, there are some new developments that may add to, or offer options to what’s already being done.  Check ’em out.

Leap Motion  gesture control with high precision 3D interaction. Claims to be 200x more sensitive than Kinect & at $70 it is quite appealing.  Wondering if this could be used in the same way as Kinect with ReconstructMe to create high-res scans.

Armada Concept 3d scanner device with dual 18mp cameras, aluminum body, & Class II laser (safe on the eyes). Meant to sync with your smart phone via bluetooth.

Matterport  3d scanner technology that boasts the ability to scan entire rooms & environments

MiiCraft launches Hi-Res DLP printer for $1999

MiiCraft is the latest crowdfunding campaign for a 3d printer. This one looks to have all the necessary variables to be set them apart.  Hi-resolution, low cost, opensource software & firmware, reasonable project funding goal. Their 3D Printer is based on SLA technology using Pico DLP projectors & boasts a resolution of 450ppi (56 micron) X/Y axis & 0.1mm (100 micron) single layer Z axis. Build speed is spec’d at 2cm per hour with ip to 3cm per hour possible for some models. Build envelope is 43mm x 27mm x 180mm.  Check the campaign out at

Design a 3D printer filament extruder under $250 & win $40,000 (plus other goodies)

While low cost 3D printers are entering the market (MakerbotPrintrbotPortabeeeMakeretc) they require extruded plastic filament that costs about $40-$54 per kg that is 5-10 times the cost of the raw resin pellets.  The Desktop Factory Competition is seeking to fund an opensource filament maker for all you owners of these FDM type machines. The competition is a partnership between business competition aggregator iStart and online Fab supply store Inventables.   The contest is offering $40,000  for the first filament making machine to meet their criteria.  I an addition to the cash (from the Kauffman Foundation) the winner will also receive a “Desktop Fabrication Lab” (3D printer, FS Laser Cutter, & Shapeoko CNC Mill).  I’m hoping the winning design is made of all printed parts ;-)


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