Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Power of 3D

I am fascinated with 3D printing. No, this does not print glasses to wear to watch 3D movies or TV. It is something much better seems to be something right out of a Star Trek episode. 3D printing is very real and is  now becoming accessible to people like us.

3D printing involves a printer that uses some substance that will "print" from a set of specifications from a CAD program. So, if you are designing a new coffee cup, you can design it a CAD program and then "print" a physical replica of it with a 3D printer. Large industrial companies have used these for years, but now these are available to the public for as little as little as $1,000. Think of all of the things you could print: a new pair of shoes, tableware, machine parts, an ice cube tray, or a replacement key!

Now move this to a whole new level and try to imagine what you could print. Perhaps a gun. You can click a button and watch an AR-15 print out while you watch Duck Dynasty, but you could, with time and effort print out all of the pieces to assemble a working firearm. If you think that I am off my rocker, then read this CNET article about an expert who has done this very thing. The have made a firearm from a 3D printer and have fired 11 rounds through it successfully. Ok, so this weapon is not ready to be used by Seal Team Six, but it worked and now the Pandora's Box of legality has been opened. Is this legal? Does it fall under traditional firearm legislation? Can it be stopped, contained, or should it be regulated at all? Considering the tenuous debate going on in our country as well as our branches of government, this a new and unthinkable wrinkle to be considered.

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