Tag Archive: 3D printing


Published November 29, 2013

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Congressional lawmakers will face a critical deadline after returning from Thanksgiving break to address a nationwide ban on the production of undetectable guns that is set to expire on Dec. 9.

The Undetectable Firearms Act, which was first enacted in 1988 and reauthorized in 2003, makes it illegal to “manufacture, import, sell, ship, deliver, possess, transfer or receive” any firearm that’s undetectable by metal detectors and X-ray machines.

Three Democratic senators, Chuck Schumer of New York, Bill Nelson of Florida and Patrick Leahy of Vermont are pushing legislation that would extend the ban to all guns manufactured using so-called three-dimensional printing technology.

Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., blocked Schumer’s request for unanimous consent for a one-year extension to the law before the Senate adjourned last week, according to The Hill.

“We will be glad to give it serious attention,” Sessions said Thursday, according to the report. “I know it is the kind of thing we probably can clear at some point, but I object.”

The National Rifle Association has not publicly stated where it stands on the proposed extension. Gun Owners of America, a smaller gun rights group, told The New York Times that the extension is unnecessary because 3-D printing technology is not widely available.

“They’re not going to be in Kinkos,” Larry Pratt, the group’s executive director, told the newspaper. “And at the moment, they can’t fire that many rounds. It’s just not something that we’re going to be dealing with anytime soon.”

Schumer, however, has said the technology of 3-D printing has advanced to the point anyone with $1,000 and an Internet connection can access the plastic parts that can be fitted into a gun. Those firearms can’t be detected by metal detectors or X-ray machines.

The senator says that means anyone can download a gun cheaply, then take the weapons anywhere, including high-security areas.

More than 100,000 copies of plans for the world’s first 3D-printed handgun, The Liberator, were downloaded in May before the State Department told the Texas-based nonprofit behind the firearm to stop sharing the file.

The Philadelphia City Council voted unanimously last week to prohibit the use of 3-D printers to create any firearm or “any piece thereof” unless that person possesses a license to manufacture firearms, making Philly the first city in the U.S. to pass such a ban.

In May, Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass., requested a plan of action from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives on the new threat posed by guns made with 3-D printing technology. The senator said earlier this month he has yet to receive a response.

“We must not allow a 3-D printer cartridge to become as deadly as a gun cartridge,” Markey said. “These homemade 3-D printed-guns are no longer a figment of the imagination but are a real threat to the public. We need to immediately pass the Undetectable Firearms Act to ensure these stealth weapons don’t go undetected.”

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Published November 26, 2013

With the stroke of a pen, Philadelphia will become the first U.S. city to ban the manufacture of firearms using three-dimensional printing technology.

In a preemptive move designed to get ahead of creative criminals, the Philadelphia City Council voted unanimously last week to prohibit the use of 3D printers to create any firearm or “any piece thereof” unless that person possesses a license to manufacture firearms. Councilman Kenyatta Johnson, author of the legislation, told FoxNews.com he expects Mayor Michael Nutter to sign the bill by the end of the year, enacting it into law. Violators could face fines up to $2,000.

“This is us getting out in front of the issue.” – Councilman Kenyatta Johnson

“We want to be proactive, we don’t want to be in a situation where people are using these 3D printers to create handguns in our city in the near future,” Johnson said. “This is us getting out in front of the issue.”

Johnson said the idea behind the bill originated following a long drive to Canada with his 14-year-old nephew, who told the 40-year-old lawmaker that plans to build 3D handguns could be found easily online.

“At first I kind of brushed it off,” Johnson said. “Then later I understood the seriousness of the problem.”

U.S. State Department officials demanded that the blueprint to build a 3D gun known as the Liberator be removed in May, but the plans had already been downloaded more than 100,000 times. Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., is also seeking an extension on a federal law banning undetectable guns before it expires on Dec. 9.

“We are looking at a world in which anyone with a little bit of cash can bring an undetectable gun that can fire multiple bullets anywhere — including planes, government buildings, sporting events and schools,” Schumer told reporters earlier this month. “3D printers are a miraculous technology that have the potential to revolutionize manufacturing, but we need to make sure they are not being used to make deadly, undetectable weapons.”

The 1988 act, which was previously reauthorized in 2003, makes it illegal to “manufacture, import, sell, ship, deliver, possess, transfer or receive” any firearm that’s undetectable by scanners. If allowed to expire as scheduled, someone could legally produce and sell firearms that could potentially be smuggled onto planes, into federal buildings or at large public events.

“This is an extremely serious problem,” Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement earlier this month. “This is a very worrisome threat to law enforcement and to people who fly every day. We can’t have guns legally in circulation that are not detectable by metal detectors.”

Anyone with about $1,000, plus the cost of printing materials, and an Internet connection can create a 3D-printed gun, although Johnson noted the cheaper alternatives like a zip gun and other improvised firearms.

“Oftentimes, we find ourselves being reactionary instead of trying to prevent the problem from forming in the first place,” Johnson said. “It is measures like this that will go toward preventing acts of violence.”

Messages seeking comment from Philadelphia Police Department officials were not returned. Johnson said no incidents involved a 3D-printed gun had been reported in the city to date.

Mark McDonald, Nutter’s spokesman, told FoxNews.com that the administration testified in favor of the bill during a hearing earlier this month. He declined to indicate whether Nutter intends to sign the bill into law or to elaborate on a timeframe.

Johnson, meanwhile, said he expects the idea to quickly spread to other jurisdictions once it does become law.

“More cities and states are going to get on board,” he told FoxNews.com. “This is going to be proactive.”

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National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) is urging Congress to reauthorize the Undetectable Firearms Act before it expires on Dec. 9. NSSF has written the chairmen and ranking members of the appropriate committees in both houses to point out that “the current law has proven effective in preventing the illegal manufacture, importation, sale or possession of undetectable firearms.”

Recent news accounts of plastic firearms being made with 3D printing technology and calls for action by anti-gun activists has resulted in some members of Congress calling for new and more extensive legislation. It is doubtful that such guns pose much of a threat to the public. As NSSF Senior Vice President and General Counsel,Larry Keane told Business Week any plastic firearm “would be very unreliable and very unsafe.”

There have been no cases of an illegal undetectable firearm ever being used in a crime, even as security screening technology has advanced since passage of the original law in 1988. NSSF is concerned that new proposals that go well beyond current law could hamper federally licensed firearms manufacturers from developing prototypes using advanced or emerging technologies.

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Depending on who you are, where you hail from, and where you stand on guns, 3D printing and related issues, this bit of news will either thrill and astound you, terrify you, or compel you to say “meh.”

But here goes: A company by the name of Solid Concepts has made the world’s first metal gun using a 3D printer.

Based out of Austin, Texas, the 3D-printed metal pistol made by Solid Concepts is based on the Browning 1911 firearm. Solid Concepts set out to make this gun in an effort to prove that they can make weapons that are fit for “real world applications.” Read more . . .

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