Three-Dimensional Printed Weapons

The science behind 3D printing was one of the most recent lectures that Professor Cartwright talked about in class. In my midterm paper, I talked about the paradox that 3D printers have in society since they can be beneficial (i.e. prosthetists) or disadvantageous (i.e. guns). The following is an excerpt of my essay on 3D printed weaponry.

In Wiki Weapon Project (2012), Cody R. Wilson collaborated with open source artists in the field of rapid prototyping to raise the issue about activating someone politically by safeguarding the First and Second amendment rights of an individual in the context of three-dimensional printed guns. Produced in a warehouse with a Stratasys 3D printer in Austin, Texas, the work creates a plastic lower receiver of an AR-15 semi-automatic weapon that can be fitted with factory made parts of the AR-15 such as the barrel, barrel casing, upper receiver, butt, magazine, and grip. By using computer-aided-design (CAD) files of guns and to be shared publicly, the work raises the question if it is ethical for any individual to have prefabricated designs of a gun to make it fast, inexpensive, and untraceable in light of the mass shootings that has plagued the nation in the past few years.

The science of making the 3D-printed gun is very simple. A CAD file of the gun is designed, then the file is sent to a 3D printer. The printer builds the design of the CAD file by starting at the base and applying a series of ABS thermoplastic layers. At the end of the printing process, a 3D-printed gun is created. The process does not require any knowledge or skill to build a gun. It raises a concern when a criminal, who is banned from legally owning a gun, can just print one at home or a teenager that could build one in the comfort of their own bedroom. Using personal 3D printers to manufacture your own gun requires no background checks, age limits, serial numbers, or sales receipts to track the owner of the gun.

– Oneil Leif Parrilla


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