Mar 16, 2016 | By Alec

It looks like fears concerning 3D printed guns aren’t just limited to the US or Australia. While some lawmakers in those countries have banned or are looking to ban so-called ‘ghost guns’, 100 percent plastic pistols that cannot be detected on metal scanners, the Thai government has gone for the nuclear option. Last month, the country’s Cabinet of Regulation approved legislation that would submit all 3D printer imports (including FDM 3D printers) to strict administrative demands and regulations – a move that would cripple the domestic 3D printing industry, hike up prices and form a great barrier to manufacturing innovation, Thai experts say.

Though these regulations were just formally approved last month and have not yet been implemented, it has already resulted in a significant backlash from the 3D printing community. Under the new legislation, all 3D printer imports are regulated by the Thai Commerce Ministry. This means all importers will be restricted to all government requests and processes related to imports, including the registration of each and every 3D printer and ownership transfer. It will also make 3D printing technology far less available and will greatly hike up market prices. Currently, the 3D printing industry isn’t faced with any restrictions.

As the Bangkok Post reveals, these new regulations were first suggested to prevent people from using an industrial metal 3D printer to produce guns without the government’s supervision. In short, to submit 3D printing to the same regulations as other manufacturing industries. But by applying these laws to all 3D printers, the critics say, the government is only making Thailand’s tech-based development less competitive and will cripple the domestic 3D printing industry.

The regulations, says Nati Sang, founder of the Chaing Mai Makerspace, directly threaten Thailand’s technological potential. “We should not let the new rules affect the course of the country's future or make it more difficult for Thais to access 3D printing innovation,” he tells reporters. “The legislation could impede Thailand's participation in the global innovation landscape.”

Problematically, the three existing Thai 3D printer manufacturers are currently still unable to compete with global manufacturers in terms of quality. Mr. Nati went on to argue that the new regulations were simply based on erroneous information about how guns are 3D printed, and that revision of legislation could prevent 3D printed gun production without crippling the domestic industry.

In particular, he argued that the metal 3D printers that are used to 3D print guns costs hundreds of thousands of dollars. “This type of printer is beyond what average people can actually afford,” said Mr Nati, who added that for that kind of money, firearms can be much more easily made without 3D printers. While a desktop FDM 3D printer could of course theoretically make a plastic gun, the results are often as dangerous for the shooter as for his targets.

But by heaping all the 3D printers together, the government is preventing researchers and manufacturers from pioneering medical, biological, material and construction innovations, Mr. Nati added. Those sounds were echoed by Panutat Tejasen, the founder of the Chiang Mai Maker Club – a community that seeks to build bridges between entrepreneurs and professional 3D printers. He argued that 3D printing could cause a paradigm shift in the Thai manufacturing. “Implementing such legislation will lead other countries to look down on Thailand,” he added.

According to 3D printer importer and technology expert Wiwat Arunruangsiriloet, a simple solution would be the narrow down the definition of 3D printers. By restricting the legislation to metal 3D printers capable of producing guns, the vast majority of the market will remain unaffected. The current situation, he warns, will impede many people – especially science and engineering students – from accessing the technology that could change the country’s manufacturing sector.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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Sungvirat wrote at 8/5/2016 1:19:52 PM:

Can the 3d printer also print a new brain to who propose this law ?. So sad they make a new law without thinking first. :(

kb wrote at 3/17/2016 10:54:38 PM:

They should also ban magazines and deodorant lol Someone on Youtube built a working gun with these items...

I. A. M. Magic wrote at 3/16/2016 5:16:19 PM:

So they are restricting the import, but are they restricting the local manufacturing as well? Pretty dumn move, you can make a "pistol" out anything...

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