Nov.24, 2013

Philadelphia became the first city in the U.S. to ban 3D printed guns. On Nov.21, 2013, the Philadelphia City Council approved a ban on the manufacturing of guns with a 3D printer.

"As technology progresses, three-dimensional printers will become more advanced, less expensive and more commonplace," Councilman Kenyatta Johnson said after the vote. "As instructions for the manufacture of guns via 3D printing technology are already available on the Internet, we could be looking at a recipe for disaster."

Philadelphia magazine reports that Kenyatta Johnson, who crafted the legislation, isn't aware of any local 3D gun manufacturers. "It's all pre-emptive," says Johnson's director of legislation Steve Cobb. "It's just based upon internet stuff out there."

The legislation was passed unanimously by 10-member council and now it is waiting for the approval from the mayor. How Philadelphia would enforce the ban is not clear.

"You can use certain types of plastics and certain types of other material to replicate anything," said Johnson earlier. "What will happen if someone used one of these 3-D printers on a personal use, which we are seeing now, to create an actual firearm? That could be something thats catastrophic." He hopes that restricting these firearms will be curtail violent crime in Philadelphia.

Perhaps you heard the news that a 3D printed gun was made out of metal, using Selective Laser Sintering. Still 3D printing a metal gun is really an expensive process. People have been making their own weapons for hundreds of years. It is possible to make guns with 3D printing, but a 3D printer is not exactly a better option right now to replace other tools that people can easily find in machine shop. Nice to see local city government trying to figure out ways to prevent problem getting worse, but as Department of Homeland Security intelligence bulletin warns, "it could be "impossible" to stop 3D-printed guns from being made.

"Proposed legislation to ban 3D printing of weapons may deter, but cannot completely prevent their production," the memo says. "Even if the practice is prohibited by new legislation, online distribution of these digital files will be as difficult to control as any other illegally traded music, movie or software files."

Posted in 3D Printing Applications



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Dan wrote at 11/26/2013 10:13:38 PM:

"As defined all computer aided manufacturing CNC, NC, additive...could meet the requirement of "Three-dimensional printer"."// Thanks for quotations. Yes, all modern tools which are much more effective than "traditional" tools, they are all driven with microcontrollers (almost all of them). Well, not surprisingly, actually this kind of law restrictions is the common practice in many other countries and as I can see this will not affect the spreading of these tools among hobbyists, householders, makers, small companies, schools, universties and many over lawful peoples and organisations. Just one suggestion. America is the largest firearm market in the world now. So it's clear that there are a lot of manufacturers, who wish America to stay a market, but not a "DIY center" of firearms :) And probably this media hysteria was a bit inspired of such interests. I'm not sure of course, it's just a suggestion, but counting on it's bit stupid arguing and quite obsessional character, it looks like not very "natural society reaction". Well, it's my opinion of course, but I think, that it will be much better to spend these money for capital investments in manufacturing equipment, to make it closer to modern additive technologies. I understand, that if you are owner of large manufacture, you need to care about sales, with any available means and so on. But if you have such kind of equipment, you make your position much more stable just because this equipment allow you to produce a very wide range of products, in addition to weapons. BTW we all see what is going on now in the world, how quickly capitals became nothing. Financial capital, the money form of capital, is bright, simple, clear and shiny, especially in gold or silver form, but it is nothing without production. And if you have possibility to create real capital in form of modern equipment, which is automated, flexible, easy scalable (in both directions) based on simple, widely-spreaded ease-available materials, and can produce almost anything, including itself, - this is better investment, best capital form, and best guarantee from any crises. This is just my common suggestions of course.

Jacob wrote at 11/26/2013 12:55:14 PM:

Quoted from the Bill "10-2001. Definitions. (1) Firearm. Any device designed, made or adapted to expel a projectile through a barrel by using the energy generated by an explosive or burning substance or any device readily convertible to that use. (2) Three-dimensional printer. A computer-driven machine capable of producing a three-dimensional object from a digital model." As defined all computer aided manufacturing CNC, NC, additive...could meet the requirement of "Three-dimensional printer". It bans all personally made firearms and all firearm components created with the aid of a computer "unless such person possesses a license to manufacture firearms under Federal law, 18 U.S.C. § 923(a)."

Dan wrote at 11/26/2013 12:13:53 AM:

to jd900 "I'm not convinced that this is really a threat."//It is a good occasion to address to wider problem (round which, by the way, there is no such media hysteria) and an occasion to start looking for effective technical solutions. Same what became metaldetectors for metal products. They well serve and constantly develop. Why not to pay the same attention to chemical (or still any, there are many different physical principles which can be used) detectors of nonmetallic materials. It as "armor and shell competition" in army equipment. The future behind composites, this already very many is clear, and it makes sense to think up something better, than a ban of everything that only it is possible.

Dan wrote at 11/26/2013 12:12:40 AM:

to jd900 "I think it would be enforced like many other laws, caught doing something else and that's found in your possession, you'll get an extra charge added to your case."//It is obscurantism and a way to a vicious circle. That is it is attempts to throw a monkey-wrench into the works of technologies which have to change cardinally production, bring mass of new opportunities and increase welfare. Though instead it would be much more productive to think of how to provide them free development and to find ways of fight against those threats which they can carry (and with the help of a ban here anything good you won't achieve).

Dan wrote at 11/26/2013 12:11:57 AM:

to jd900 "Given that so many types of plastics are 3D printable, I don't know how effectively that will work."//Not so there is a lot of if to look. At least main polymers. Additives and various stains it can be valid much, but the main thermoplastic components can be counted on fingers (if not to take into consideration chocolate, certainly :). Actually all these technical problems could be solved if to set such purpose. Besides it would be a good occasion in practice to increase safety of citizens without striking at their rights and without thinking out excess restrictions for development of technologies which will make over time a huge contribution to development of production and, respectively, in augmentation of opportunities for ensuring comfort, safety and welfare of people. For example the snap analysis really could be carried out in a stream of the air referred on the array with analyzers and to consider background level of existence of found substances. In this case any subject from plastic could be defined enough larger sizes rather surely, and not only from plastic (and even if this subject will be packed in a vacuum plastic package, you will be able to define this package). It in general a good occasion to address to ways of safety from subjects and substances nondetectable by metal detectors (explosive, the poisons, cold and firearms from X-Ray - low-contrast materials). And the technical solutions found in a course of the solution of this task could serve good service further for safety in populous places.

Dan wrote at 11/26/2013 12:11:19 AM:

to jd900 "The modern chemical "sniff" sensors were decommissioned for not being effective."// Too categorical statement in my opinion. Yes, dogs are used and now, and even mice learned to train for the same work, using their natural "chemical analyzers". But also technical analyzers quite regularly worked 50 years ago (though the Vietnamese guerrillas and found the way to "troll" sensors of the ammonia used from helicopters for detection of camps of guerrillas; I won't tell that it in a way, I think, you will guess :), and for half a century of technology left far forward. Than various chemical sensors and chemical express analyzers constructed on the various physical principles becomes more increasing, they are used in the most different areas from geological exploration to fire safety, not to mention laboratory equipment and medicine. Their quality and opportunities constantly grow.

jd900 wrote at 11/25/2013 6:19:39 PM:

The modern chemical "sniff" sensors were decommissioned for not being effective. Given that so many types of plastics are 3D printable, I don't know how effectively that will work. I think it would be enforced like many other laws, caught doing something else and that's found in your possession, you'll get an extra charge added to your case. I'm not convinced that this is really a threat.

Dan wrote at 11/25/2013 11:55:39 AM:

I think such detectors even it isn't necessary to develop, they already are. By the way for rising of their efficiency it is possible to use an air stream, not so strong which "will blow" the necessary molecules from clothes. I remember earlier in large shops and in the subway at an entrance you were blown always by an air stream from lateral fans in walls. Here such installations in populous places can replace a framework of metal detectors. And also can serve to detect a lot of other dangerous things, which is not detectable with metal detectors. Well and nobody prevents to oblige producers of plastic to add in it safe for the person, but substances easily defined by such detectors. Though it is possible that it is already made, or plastic is rather easily found by such detectors. So, generally, crying about "not detectability" of plastic - is not so sincere.

Michel wrote at 11/25/2013 5:07:56 AM:

Just use orange PLA. If you use orange PLA it is a toy. Black or Silver PLA means its a gun. Just use orange PLA. Just jking of course. The whole thins is just so silly.

Dan wrote at 11/24/2013 9:55:56 PM:

"Like some previous stories shown here, it will be quite difficult to detect plastic guns at security areas with only metal detectors."//Yes, BTW how they detects ceramics knives, or explosives, or dangerous chemicals now? Looks like the police and other agencies know how to detect all of this things. I think something like electronic chemical detector (electronic "nose") could be used for detecting materials like gunpowder from rounds, gun oil and other explosives, used in caps. You can not use gun without some kind of gunpowder, or special enough gun oil and so on. So presense of this substances can be determined with this kind of detectors. I know that in Vietnam similar things was used by US Army.

Keith wrote at 11/24/2013 9:48:19 PM:

It's sad, really. 3D printing of all types, and the entire Maker movement, is anathema to those that wish to control their populaces. Of course, hobbyists who play with CAD-CAM machining can already make high-quality weapons in their garages, and as noted, people have been making quality guns with hand tools for CENTURIES

William wrote at 11/24/2013 6:17:27 PM:

"Nice to see locall city government.." What? Exercise total control over its citizens? The lesson drawn from this shouldn't be we need to stop 3d printing of weapons. It should demonstrate the futility of gun control.

Wes wrote at 11/24/2013 6:10:44 PM:

"How Philadelphia would enforce the ban is not clear." This is the big kicker of the story. As with most things, when not lawful, this is just a piece to keep honest people from making them. Like some previous stories shown here, it will be quite difficult to detect plastic guns at security areas with only metal detectors.

CornGolem wrote at 11/24/2013 6:00:21 PM:

But they don't ban ownership ? scam

Dan wrote at 11/24/2013 5:15:14 PM:

"Nice to see local city government trying to figure out ways to prevent problem getting worse"// Yes, for example what if some people wants to 3D-print completely legal types of guns, like strikeball (with different types of accessories), or CO2-pneumatics, or even firearms for low-power round, like Flober, which is not defined as illegal? Or probably just toy-weapon. This is also will be defined as a crime? ""it could be "impossible" to stop 3D-printed guns from being made."// Or just unnecessuary, like with all other handy and automated tools, suitable for guns production, but used mostly for other types of production. Ok, will see.

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