May 9, 2013 4:20 pm
Updated: May 9, 2013 4:25 pm

UPDATE: 3D printed gun files no longer available

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Blueprints for The ‘Liberator’, a functioning 3D printed gun, were removed today from Cody Wilson’s website Defcad.org by the US Department of Defense Trade Controls, according to his website.

“#DEFCAD is going dark at the request of the SOS Department of Defense Trade Controls. Some shapes are more dangerous than others,” tweeted Wilson. It is not clear if blueprints are available elsewhere.

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The Liberator is the brain child of law student Wilson’s company Defense Distributed in Austin, Texas. The blueprints for the gun were released on his website Defcad.org Monday, ready to download for free and be printed by anyone who has access to a 3D printer.

“Where there’s a computer, there’d be a weapon,” Wilson told 16×9. “Well, literally where there’s a 3D printer.”

The gun, smaller than a 9mm, is made almost entirely of plastic, except for a metal firing pin, and could cost about $60 to make. It’s capable of firing between eight and nine rounds until the barrel breaks. Not a problem, Wilson said, people can just print another barrel.

Wilson previously printed gun parts, like a lower receiver for the AR-15 and has been working on this project for almost a year.

But he is also quick to point out that this project is political and about access to information. “You know, I don’t think you should be armed, right? But I think you should have to choice to be.”

There are few rules for what someone can or can not make with 3D printing. According to the National Firearms Act in the United States, it is legal for someone to make their own gun, but to distribute or sell it requires a license.

Wilson received his manufacturing licence from the Bureau for Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) earlier this year, allowing him to distribute his plans online. So far, people from all around the world have downloaded his blue prints.

But many are worried about how the technology will be used. A heated gun debate in the United States and shootings like the one in Newtown, Connecticut have dominated headlines amidst cries for stricter regulations and background checks.

“I think it could inspire enough energy to get enough people together and get a gun bill passed,” said Wilson. “But it’s all theatre until something happens.”

Wilson also addressed concerns about the gun being undetectable saying that visual imaging or X-ray technologies could be improved.

“These things will be detectable in the modern sense,” he said. “But there is still a valid criticism that someone might make it and run it through a metal detector, this is possible.”

Back in Canada, all firearm owners are required to have a licence, and making a gun from a 3D printer remains an important issue that the RCMP is monitoring.

3D printing, also called additive manufacturing, has been growing in popularity since the 1980s. Much like an inkjet printer sends a word document to a printer that uses ink, 3D technology sends digital design files to a printer which, in turn, builds the design three dimensionally in plastic or other materials.

16×9 posted a video on 3D printing featuring Wilson back in January and comments have been divisive on the topic of whether people should be able to print a weapon that could go undetected.

Watch the video: 3D printing – print anything you want

For Wilson, this technology is where we are going.  “Welcome to your printable future.”

© 2013 Shaw Media

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