Back in August I linked to the Wiki Weapons Project, a group trying to use 3D printers to “print” a fully working gun.
But Wired reports the team has hit a snag:
But last Wednesday, less than a week after receiving the printer, Wilson received an e-mail from Stratasys: The company wanted its printer returned. Wilson wrote back, and said he believed using the printer to manufacture a firearm would not break federal laws regarding at-home weapons manufacturing. For one, the gun wouldn’t be for sale. Wilson added that he didn’t have a firearms manufacturers license.
Stratasys’s legal counsel wrote back: “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 and Stratasys is making arrangements to pick up the printer,” stated the letter, which Wilson posted to Defense Distributed’s website. The next day, contractors hired by the company arrived at Wilson’s apartment in an Enterprise rental van and took the printer.
Instead of going off the shelf, doctors turned to a 3D printer from Stratasys to create custom molded parts and a lightweight vest for Emma. The result: the two-year-old who once could not lift her arms is now able to play, color and feed herself. Printing the parts also solves another major issue — Emma is growing… quickly. The adorable tot has already outgrown her first vest, but her mother just calls the Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children and has a new one made. The same goes for replacement parts. Should a hinge or brace break, it need only be a matter of hours (not days or weeks) before a new one is delivered.
Earlier this month, Wilson and a small group of friends who call themselves “Defense Distributed” launched an initiative they’ve dubbed the “ Wiki Weapon Project.” They’re seeking to raise $20,000 to design and release blueprints for a plastic gun anyone can create with an open-source 3D printer known as the RepRap that can be bought for less than $1,000. If all goes according to plan, the thousands of owners of those cheap 3D printers, which extrude thin threads of melted plastic into layers that add up to precisely-shaped three-dimensional objects, will be able to turn the project’s CAD designs into an operational gun capable of firing a standard .22 caliber bullet, all in the privacy of their own garage.
“We want to show this principle: That a handgun is printable,” says Wilson, a 24-year-old second-year law student at the University of Texas. “You don’t need to be able to put 200 rounds through it…It only has to fire once. But even if the design is a little unworkable, it doesn’t matter, as long as it has that guarantee of lethality.”
From a 2009 post on the lockpick/encryption/RF site Blackbag:
German SSDeV member Ray is known all around the world for his impressive collection of handcuffs and his fun ways of opening most of them. On top of that he gives great presentations and always manages to add a lot of humor into them!
At HAR he pulled another stunt: He used a 3D printer to print handcuff keys. And not just any ordinary handcuff key … no, it’s the official handcuff key from the Dutch police!
The work of Dutch fashion designer Iris van Herpen, whose designs have been worn by the likes of Lady Gaga and Bjork, are being featured in the Groningen Museum in the Netherlands. van Herpen uses 3-D printing to make dresses like this one:
(you can see a model actually wearing it in the video above)
The new machine, which costs around $200,000, has been developed by Organovo, a company in San Diego that specialises in regenerative medicine, and Invetech, an engineering and automation firm in Melbourne, Australia. One of Organovo’s founders, Gabor Forgacs of the University of Missouri, developed the prototype on which the new 3D bio-printer is based. The first production models will soon be delivered to research groups which, like Dr Forgacs’s, are studying ways to produce tissue and organs for repair and replacement. At present much of this work is done by hand or by adapting existing instruments and devices.
To start with, only simple tissues, such as skin, muscle and short stretches of blood vessels, will be made, says Keith Murphy, Organovo’s chief executive, and these will be for research purposes. Mr Murphy says, however, that the company expects that within five years, once clinical trials are complete, the printers will produce blood vessels for use as grafts in bypass surgery. With more research it should be possible to produce bigger, more complex body parts. Because the machines have the ability to make branched tubes, the technology could, for example, be used to create the networks of blood vessels needed to sustain larger printed organs, like kidneys, livers and hearts. […]
Though printing organs is new, growing them from scratch on scaffolds has already been done successfully. In 2006 Anthony Atala and his colleagues at the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine in North Carolina made new bladders for seven patients. These are still working.
James Cascio has a piece in Fast Company introducing the basic concepts and present status of desktop manufacturing:
This doesn’t mean that Wal-Mart will go away any time soon, but it does mean a pretty big shift in the relationship between individuals and their material world. Most notably, it would open up the possibility that the kinds of personalized products now available to those with the right money and know-how may soon be available to everyday people. Thinking of this simply as traditional manufacturing moved from the factory to the neighborhood (or the home office) misses the larger revolution. This isn’t just desktop production (figuratively or literally), it’s democratized production. It will have its own intrinsic dilemmas, from liability to spam, but it will pose a powerful challenge to the status quo.
Comment from Dominic Muren:
I think you can (and should) take it one step further. Not only are objects print-outs of some design, but there is no reason that the design cannot keep evolving, or become differentiated based on the interests and values of various niches. As I said in this Ignite talk a few months back (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FIoU1pemi18), “products should be a crystallization of a conversation” — that is, desktop fab means that we no longer have to be content with the values and consequences that the market forces us to choose from. We can articulate our own.
As we develop these new technologies and the social conventions which govern them, we face a choice between a walmart-like “pay to download and print” model, and a sourceforge “mix and match pieces for free” model. Certainly both methods have their benefits, but if we can figure out a way to make open source work more broadly for objects, then I suspect we will have discovered our best possible chance for avoiding the continued flowering of “data piracy”. I only hope it works, not only for the sake of our future iPods, but our future freedom:
Printers equipped for 3-D are poised to go mainstream, now that Hewlett-Packard plans to start selling them. The company’s inkjet and laser printers are staples in offices and homes.
The devices, which can crank out three-dimensional plastic models through a process similar to printing text on sheets of paper, have until recently been available only to high-end industrial designers. HP’s devices will be targeted at a broader market of mechanical-design professionals, and will probably cost less than $15,000.
“This is the boldest step we have seen so far in 3-D printing,” says Scott Summit, chief technology officer for Bespoke Innovations, a company that creates 3-D artifacts for medical use. “A lot of people want to do 3-D printing but it is a mysterious world. With HP embracing it, it is likely to demystify the idea to many consumers.”
HP’s printers will be manufactured by Stratasys, a company that specializes in 3-D printers.