Jun 4, 2014

Ever since Cody Wilson's "Liberator" 3D printed gun was fired back in May 2013, there have been worries that the technology could be used by criminals and terrorists, especially because 3D printed plastic guns, like any kind of plastic guns, were potentially undetectable by traditional metal detectors.

One company based in the 'cyber valley' in Western England has a solution. Radio Physics Solutions is planning to produce and sell the first-ever scanner that can detect a concealed 3D printed gun in real-time, using radar waves and artificial intelligence. The company has raised £700,000 from equity crowdfunding platform SyndicateRoom, which targets professional "angel" investors, as well as a crowd of smaller investors.

The detector, which is the first of its kind in the world, is designed to rapidly scan individuals in a crowd as they pass through public spaces, gates or entrances and instantly alert officials as soon as a threat is detected.

The scanner has an in-built computer that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to analyse radio waves in real-time. It works at a distance of up to 25 metres. If a threat is detected, the beam of millimetre-waves are reflected back from the target, containing information about the target. Those waves are interpreted by a computer, which looks at the pattern of the returns and compares them against previous detections. The device will alert the operator on a full-colour display with a colour-coded cursor which highlights the suspected area.

"It's really a combination of a radar system and an AI-based computer system," lead researcher Nick Bowring explained.

In a recent test for NABIS, the UK's National Ballistics Intelligence Service, the firm's technology could accurately detect concealed non-metallic 3D printed gun and alert an operator 'in less than one second'.

The project initially sought to raise £600K through SyndicateRoom, but it ultimately sold £700k of equity, among which £380K are from professional investors.

Founder and CEO of SyndicateRoom, Gonçalo de Vasconcelos stated, "Their scanners are able to detect not just conventional weapons like firearms and knives, but also improvised bombs and composite guns. There is a huge, global market for such technology – from mass transport hubs to government buildings and major sporting venues. Anywhere there is a potential terror threat, RPS technology can keep people safe."

3D printed guns bigger danger to user

Recently the University of Warwick conducted a test in collaboration with West Midlands Police's National Ballistics Intelligence Service (NABIS) and its result showed that guns made with 3D printing are far more dangerous to the shooter than the intended target.

Image: University of Warwick

The university produced and test fired a number of 3D printed guns, named the Liberator by its US developers, to understand the behaviour of these weapons at present and look at how they may evolve as a threat in the future.

Speaking to the Independent Dr Simon Leigh from the School of Engineering commented that during the tests the gun "ranged from small failure to complete catastrophic failure."

During the tests, which were broadcast on the BBC News Channel, the Liberator was shown to be of more danger to the shooter than its target and suffered a range of problems, including the barrel breaking apart upon firing with fragments becoming embedded in the roof of the firing range.

Images: University of Warwick

Head of NABIS, Detective Chief Superintendent Iain O'Brien, said that there was a "curiosity factor with 3D printers and those interested in playing around with the technology may not realise the danger they are facing."

"We need to make people aware that producing a firearm in this way is illegal and could cause serious injury to the person holding the gun."

Posted in 3D Printing Applications


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dtuerk wrote at 6/5/2014 6:14:27 PM:

I wonder if anyone has tried using that new Carbon Fiber Reinforced PLA/ABS yet?

quigly qxlighnm wrote at 6/5/2014 4:57:42 AM:

bigger issue, they are testing last years design along with the swiss cheeze infill. Nothing more than a propaganda attempt by the government/academic industrial fascist complex.

Macros wrote at 6/5/2014 1:09:32 AM:

from the pic, university of warwick not conduct the real plastic gun, because barrel infill not 100%, if barrel infill is 100% the barrel would survive but still unusable.. just replace it. And new stronger material emerges like nylon and other nanotube coated filament, those would make the plastic gun stronger.. Just ban on the bullet trade, it will be easier..

CNK wrote at 6/5/2014 12:50:44 AM:

You've got to be kidding! They printed the barrel without solid infill!? Seems that unless there's some complicated physics behind this (in which case, why don't steel gun barrels have air gaps?), either the testers knew nothing about 3D printing or were trying to print a gun that would easilly fail. Makes me wonder what sort of plastic it is too. Should be ABS.

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