A company that specializes in direct metal laser sintering, or DMLS, has created a gun it says is composed entirely of 3D-printed metal.(click on the link at the top of the page to read the entire article ... Hat Tip to The G-Man!)
It reads like a plot of a dystopian novel: People develop a technology that allows them to manufacture—themselves, in the privacy of their own homes—working guns. Law enforcement is unable to regulate firearms. Chaos ensues.
When a design for The Liberator, the open-sourced and 3D-printed gun, was released last year, worriers could take some solace: The gun wasn't entirely composed of 3D-printed materials. The gun's firing pin—the thing, essentially, that put the fire in the firearm—was made of metal. And metal is extremely difficult to use as a material for 3D printing. Until ... it's not.
A company called Solid Concepts, which specializes in direct metal laser sintering, or DMLS, has created a gun, it claims, that is composed entirely of 3D-printed metal. The gun is not only fully metal-made; it is also capable of firing multiple rounds. (Liberator-style guns made of extruded plastic, on the other hand, are at this point able to fire one shot—ever.) The gun Solid Concepts is testing—and, indeed, using as a proof-of-concept—can fire 50 rounds. And be ready for more.
I remembering watching an episode of Jay Leno's Garage (or whatever the show is) where he demonstrated this kind of laser technology. What's it called? Sintering? I looked it up: this wikipedia article is almost 4 years out of date, which only proves that any published article is obsolete by the time we read it, if it involves engineering processes.
Yes, the machinery is quite expensive ... the old versions allow Jay Leno to build a plastic carburetor.
But .. a metal sintering process which creates a functional semi-automatic pistol? Oh my, that's quite a different thing.
It's easy to believe that the skills and knowledge which allow one to construct an entire firearm, such as a 1911-style pistol with it's 54 distinct parts, present a daunting challenge.
The thing is, you can BUY parts for a 1911 on the open market with no governmental oversight. They're not all that expensive. The only part that the Feds define as a 'firearm' is the part that has a manufacturer's serial number on it: the frame.
All one needs do to create a completely under-the-roses pistol is to create the frame. You can buy the rest of the farm from Brownells (or Shotgun News, for that matter) with no more tracking/tracing/regulation than buying "parts".
Using sintering to build a (relatively) simple 3-dimensional object such as the frame of a 1911 seems to be less challenging. The "Solid Concepts" people made the entire thing, one supposes, including the springs. Coil springs require special metals. The sear spring is also 'special'. But we're talking chump change here, and absolutely no governmental monitoring. Same with firing pins, etc.
So, does this recent technological advance present a threat to Government regulation of firearms?
What will the Feds do as a stop-gap measure?
Oh, you're so smart. You're right, they will regulate the HELL out of this technology. In fact, they're working on it already.
The REAL thing is ... do you remember "Jurassic Park", where "Malcolm" (Jeff Goldblum) is told that there is NO way the dinosaurs will reproduce? His reply, in stentorian overtones, is that "...life will find a way ..."
We're saying, technology is expensive and hard to find, and cumbersome. At first. Then it gets simpler, and cheaper, and easier to operate.
For example, my first "cell phone" was a "Bag Phone". It weighed a ton, was very expensive, cumbersome and ugly.
My current "smart phone" cost 20% of what that bag phone cost. I've had it for five months and I'm still trying to learn all the ins and outs of using the damn thing, but I'm getting the hang of it without the need to register for a night-school course at my local community college.
I couldn't MAKE a cell phone (or an automobile, or probably even an electric generator), but if I HAD one, I could learn how to use it.
Saying that a DMLS is too complicated for most people to use doesn't buy many turnips, if the Feds expect that sheer technical complexity will prevent people from building their own untraceable, unregistered, non-serialized firearms.
Ever look at the receiver of an AR-16? And the parts which make it different from the AR-15 (the semi-automatic only version of the fully automatic version)?
Shucks, the different parts you could almost make by hand, if you had the specs and were patient and fairly good with hand tools. You should note, of course, that this was the kind of "cottage industry" which landed Randy Weaver in Federal hot water at Ruby Ridge. He just sawed off the barrel of a shotgun, and look where that got him. That was in 1985, under a much more 'understanding' President. (Can you say "I must have mis-spoken", Children? I knew you could.)
Defying the Federal Government is risky business. They have their job to do, and they can be downright mean.
This is still a government of We The People.
Oh, I am SO going to enjoy the next 20 years of watching the Feds trying to put THIS toothpaste back into the tube!
Also reference the following:
- pandora's box
- can of worms
- gestalt theory of ideas