According to Forbes, a group called Defense Distributed is “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.” An e-mail sent yesterday to CHT, signed by Defense Distributed, claims the group has now met its goal of $20,000.
The same Forbes article reveals that a printable lower receiver for an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle has already been uploaded by another group, which is significant because:
With a 3D-printed receiver, a gun enthusiast could purchase and assemble the other components without any limitations from gun control laws.
Just a month ago, a 3D-printed lower receiver was put to the test by Michael Guslick, who wrote on an AR-15 enthusiast web forum that he was able to assemble a working model of the rifle with a receiver printed on a Stratasys model printer and to fire 200 rounds without any sign of wear on the printed piece.
The FAQ section of Defense Distributed answers “How many people will have 3D printers? Not many I suspect.” with:
See the above answer as well. Desktop 3D printing technology is much like desktop printing in the early 80?s. Innovation and demand will drive down barriers to entry to the technology over time. This project itself may have a tiny part in doing that. How many people have 3D printers now? Few, and those are limited to the first world.
But how many people will want access to the technology as it begins to seriously replicate tools and complex machinery? Let demand and prices work, and watch what unfolds.
This technology could, one day in the distant future, hinder government ability to regulate or ban firearms – a blow to the Orwellian state.
Update: From a much better CNET article on this topic, it sounds like the plastic gun is unlikely to succeed with current technology. One can of course already build working metal guns with CNC machines, some of which are computer controlled. According to an expert in the CNET article these self-made metal guns can be as cheap as $3,000 for the machine and $20 for the parts. Regardless, downloadable blueprints for a plastic gun might one day be significant.