THE BLOG
04/08/2013 11:01 am ET Updated Jun 08, 2013

3D Printing: Still A Good Idea?

3D printing is a type of technology that I have been following very closely over the past two or three years. For those of you who don't know, 3D printing is when a material is melted into an aqueous form so that it is then excreted from a point. The material is then layered until it creates the wanted object. The original idea behind giving people the power to create whatever they wanted as long as they could successfully design it was to allow people to create a broken part of a hanger, for example. One of the creators of the first 3D printer, the Makerbot, never imagined that someone would begin to design 3D models of parts of an assault rifle for the free download of whoever wants it.

Cody Wilson is a 25-year-old law student who started a nonprofit organization called Defense Distributed, which helps develop and publish open-source 3D gun designs. The designs are posted to their site, Defcad, in retaliation after their gun designs were taken off of Thingiverse, a site for people to post their designs of whatever they made.

Cody is yet to actually print an entire gun, but he has printed a successful lower receiver, which is the area of a gun where the trigger is. There is a video on YouTube of the lower receiver successfully firing around 600 rounds without even cracking. Cody's team also created magazines for assault rifles such as the AK-47 and the AR-15.

Printing a gun is something that Bre Pettis and other creators of some of the first 3D printers for the public did not expect at all. As Cody states in his video explaining Defcad:

Can 3D printing be subversive? If it can, it will be because it will allow us to create the important things. Not trinkets, not lawn gnomes, but the things that institutions and industries have an interest keeping from us. Things like access, medical devices, drugs, goods, guns. Defcad will provide access to the view of these things. The important things.

Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but when your opinion is incorrect on such a scale that you are being backed by people to print automatic weapons for free without any government background checks, then it's an issue. Institutions and industries have no interest in keeping drugs, medical devices, and goods away from the public -- the technology doesn't exist to just simply download and print a 3D arm that will work automatically.

It's great that Cody is trying to push the boundaries of 3D printing, but doing so by creating parts of a weapon that anyone can download for free without any background checks is not a great example of pushing the limits of 3D printing. Defcad allows criminals, mentally unstable, and irrational teens to download, maybe eventually, an entire gun and all they need after that is ammunition, which is obscenely cheap. According to a poll posted to pollingreport.com by Quinnipiac University, as of March 26th, 91 percent of the people who took the poll supported background checks. What Cody is doing is creating a way to make an untraceable weapon. At a time when our nation is trying to keep weapons out of the hands of those who are criminals or mentally ill, this idea doesn't help, only harms society.