Jan.11, 2014

CBS found 3D printing an interesting enough topic for some of their latest and most popular series. CBS's hit TV series Big Bang Theory features a 3D printer in January 2013. In that episode Howard Wolowitz and Raj Koothrappali use 3D printer to make customized action figures. In CBS's another TV serie, Elementary, 3D printing is put in the spotlight again and this time, it is used to print a plastic gun.

Elementary is a crime drama series that presents a contemporary update of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's character Sherlock Holmes set in the United States. It stars Jonny Lee Miller as Sherlock Holmes and Lucy Liu as Dr. Joan Watson, a female version of Holmes' companion.

In episode one of Elementary Season 2, Sherlock and Joan go to London. Attempting to prove a rich man killed his wife, Sherlock, Joan, and local inspector Lestrade pour over evidence. Refrigerated milk leads them to visit the suspect's house where Sherlock discovers a chipped nail, leading him to the conclusion that the gun was 3D printed using plastic and melted in acetone.

Sherlock: I don't believe it was milk in that bottle; I believe it was acetone.

Lestrade: He used acetone to melt the gun?

Sherlock: The crime, as I see it, Pendry shoots his wife at 6:33. He then disassembled his weapon and he dropped the pieces into a bottle he's filled with acetone. He then dials 999 at 6:36 to report that his wife has been murdered by an intruder. The acetone in the meanwhile is dissolving the gun he used to murder her, leaving nothing but a milk-like liquid in the bottle in his refrigerator.

Joan: It is illegal for gun factory to make or manufacture a plastic weapon. But with advances in 3D printing, it makes it possible for anything with the right specs to build one in the comfort of their own home. They only need one piece of metal to make it work: a nail to act as the firing pin.

Sherlock: Pendry couldn't very well melt a nail, so he hide it in plain sight. He used it to re-hang one of the masks in the living room before the police arrived. That's why it was hanging lower than the others - he did the work in a hurry. When I examined that nail today, I noticed that the tip was slightly charred. Carbon scoring from where it struck the bullet.

Sherlock and Joan go to a major park covered by many security cameras. He holds up cue cards to give a message to local authority to get him a list of people who have purchased 3 D printers. A few hours later, someone surreptitiously drops off a list.

Sherlock: I would wager that, like us, they (some of England's network of watchmen) are aware of the new and deadly advances in 3D printing. I would also wager that the nation's gun-averse and ever-more-paranoid security apparatus are tracking the sales of 3D printers.

Tracking 3D printer purchases leads them to the body of the suspect's handyman, and plastic fragments found on the scene prove Sherlock's hypothesis that the man printed a gun to kill his wife and killed the handyman to clean up loose ends. In fact Pendry used the 3D printer to build the second gun to kill the handyman. When he killed his wife, he used a special-ordered .22-caliber round, but this time he was in a hurry, so he used a .22 long, higher velocity bullet and it caused the plastic pistol to explode. And the wounds on Pendry's right forearm prove everything.

The CBS series display 3D printing technology to millions of fans and it is a very effectively thrust to push 3D printing to the public consciousness. Awareness is the first step toward mass acceptance. Elementary averages 10 million viewers per show, giving 3D printing some serious airtime.

Posted in 3D Printing Applications



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kf wrote at 1/16/2014 10:53:12 PM:

...great. just what the burgeoning 3d market needed for it's household name/topic. Not that it should be ignored, but I'm guessing this will be a more popular topic at the dinner table than printing organs and prosthetics and jet parts.

alidan wrote at 1/12/2014 6:46:00 AM:

just the way 3d printers needed to be seen. weapon factories. im betting this will do wonders for getting mass market acceptance and drive the cost of the printers down

A Nutter wrote at 1/12/2014 2:16:15 AM:

Simple dear Watson. The gun had been dipped into acetone to give a smooth surface finish, unfortunalty for our victim he failed to grasp the concept of napalm... Upon firing this gun, the soft plastic plastered everything in burning gel. It consumed the murderer, his victim and the remains of the house we find them in. Great, way to go promoting responsible use of 3D printing. Why not also try a story line involving printing a suface to air missile, just for good measure.

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