Monday, May 06, 2013

Live test-firing video shows off 3D printed gun, as plans go live on the Web

The saga of the world's first handgun fully printed on a 3D printer -- aside from one piece of metal added to meet the requirements of the Undetectable Firearms Act and a nail, used as a firing pin -- continued on Sunday. Defense Distributed, which said it would the CAD files for a working gun, which it has dubbed "the Liberator," this week, uploaded a video apparently showing a .38 caliber bullet being fired by the gun.

The test (video embedded) was held in from of a Forbes reporter. The gun reportedly received no visible damage, except that a rifle cartridge was used instead of a handgun cartridge, the Liberator exploded. That wasn't unexpected: The team pulled the trigger from a distance.

Notably, although Defense Distributed's design complies with the UFA, it could be easily modified to eschew the six-ounce piece of steel use to meet that law's requirement. The UFA of 1988 is described as follows:
The Undetectable Firearms Act of 1988 (HR 4445) makes it illegal to manufacture, import, sell, ship, deliver, possess, transfer or receive any firearm that is not detectable by walk-through metal detectors or has major components that do not generate an accurate image when subjected to inspection by airport x-ray machines.
The UFA is due for renewal in December. It was put into effect in 1988, with an initial House vote of 413 - 4 and a signing by then U.S. President Ronald Reagan. While it was allowed to sunset in 1998, it was renewed in 2003.

Last year, printer manufacturer Stratasys seized a printer it had leased to Defense Distributed after it learned of how its machine was being used. The group now has a federal license to manufacture firearms, and although the current design requires a Stratasys Dimension SST 3D printer, the company is modifying the design to work on lower-cost printers, including open-source ones such as RepRap.

Notably, the gun is made with 16 parts (excluding the metal piece necessitated by the UFA), with only one -- the firing pin -- being made of metal. The modular design makes it easy to change the most likely part to be damaged during firing -- the barrel, which can be swapped out in seconds.

The quick-change barrel is reminiscent of that of Germany's MG 42 from World War II. The Liberator's name -- and somewhat, the design -- was apparently taken the one-shot pistols that were designed to be air-dropped over France during World War II as inspiration, also called the Liberator.

On Friday, Rep. Steve Israel (D - N.Y.) issued the following statement to the press:
Security checkpoints, background checks, and gun regulations will do little if criminals can print plastic firearms at home and bring those firearms through metal detectors with no one the wiser.

When I started talking about the issue of plastic firearms months ago, I was told the idea of a plastic gun is science-fiction. Now that this technology appears to be upon us, we need to act now to extend the ban [on] plastic firearms.
On Sunday, New York Senator Charles Schumer doubled down on Israel’s call for new legislation to ban 3D-printable guns.
A terrorist, someone who’s mentally ill, a spousal abuser, a felon can essentially open a gun factory in their garage.
Such legislation might be a day late and a dollar short. The plans for the gun are already online, at DefDist's site.

No comments: