Jul 22, 2017 | By David

We all know of the benefits that 3D printing technology can offer and the potential that it has to revolutionize manufacturing and even save lives, but less frequently discussed are the inherent dangers. The open-source, accessible nature of the technology means that all kinds of products can be produced by users in the comfort of their own home, even items that would otherwise be strictly regulated or controlled. An alarming (or alarmist, depending on how you look at it) report recently published by controversial research organization Rand Europe and the University of Manchester outlined the potential that exists for people to 3D print their own guns, with designs obtained on the dark web.

The dark web is a hidden area of the internet that is deliberately inaccessible to Google’s servers, and it contains several ‘crypto-markets’, secret online marketplaces. 12 of these crypto-markets were included in the study, which collected data online for a week in September of last year. It found that instructions for making firearms were the second most popular firearms purchase on the dark web, after firearms themselves. Such purchases include instructions for how to make firearms from scratch and how to convert replica guns into real ones, as well as 3D CAD files for printing a gun. The instructions for how to 3D print a gun were available for as little as $12.

According to the study, the ''availability of 3D models for additive manufacturing of parts, components or full firearms has been recognised by the international community as a major source of concern...The proliferation of guidelines and 3D models, in combination with the increased quality of commercially available 3D printers, may result in more untraceable weapons.''

While many sectors, in particular the manufacturing industry, are finding their day-to-day operations made significantly easier and more efficient with the increasing prevalence of 3D printing technology, the opposite might prove to be true for law enforcement officials.

Judith Aldridge, Professor of Criminology at The University of Manchester and a coinvestigator on the research, added: ''In very simple terms, anyone can connect to the dark web and within minutes have access to a variety of vendors offering their products, which are most often illegal. The dark web enables illegal trade at a global level, removing some of the geographical barriers between vendors and buyers. It also increases the personal safety of both buyers and sellers through a series of anonymising features that obscure their identities. This veil of anonymity, combined with the relative ease of access, makes the dark web an attractive option for a wide range of sellers.''

Whether these findings constitute a serious threat to our security is debatable, but it can’t be denied that the dark web and 3D printing technology are increasing the options for people looking to procure firearms or even explosive devices. We reported previously on the discovery by police of a major facility for 3D printing sub-machine guns, on Australia's Gold Coast. The major price difference compared to the street and conventional black markets is another factor in the facilitation of people getting their hands on dangerous weapons. That doesn’t mean that selling firearms online isn’t a lucrative business, though. The overall value of the arms trade based on the 12 cryptomarkets analyzed in the study is estimated to be in the region of $80,000 per month. 



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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Greg wrote at 1/16/2019 2:38:26 PM:

So much hype and misconception about "3D Printed guns"... There are only a limited subset of gun parts that can be 3D printed with conventional fused polymer 3D printing. Any component that must endure high stresses or high pressures must still be manufactured from high quality metals and alloys. This is particularly true of the heart of any firearm - the chamber and barrel. The art and skill of gunsmithing has been around for many centuries, and has always been accessible to the lay person. CNC machining (subtraction manufacturing) has become much more accessible to the the average person in the past decade, and it is vastly more useful for personal firearms fabrication (gunsmithing). And yet, barely any negative publicity around the evolution of that technology is to be found. Thanks to the ignorant MSM fake news reporting, there is public perception that 3D printing usable gun parts somehow requires no knowledge or skills. People believe that it can be used to crank our massive numbers of functioning firearms with nothing more than the press of a button. Anyone with even a little knowledge and experience in this area knows that this idea is absolute fiction. The whole idea of having to buy gun parts plans on the dark web is also incredibly ignorant. There are many repositories of these CAD files easily available via peer to peer sharing networks. They are very easy to find. For example, fosscad.org is just one of many indexes into the world of decentralized storage of such files.

Dan Haggerty wrote at 7/24/2017 10:13:35 PM:

The gun at the beginning of the article is a render, NOT a 3D print. Stop being lazy in your reporting... FACTS not fiction.

alex wrote at 7/24/2017 6:53:08 AM:

4 coolest 3D printing projects this week: 3D printed espresso cup, Iron Man suit, handheld PC, V for Vendetta masks

guest wrote at 7/23/2017 5:02:10 AM:

Anybody who pays $12 for that is an idiot, there's hundreds for free on piratebay

Barry wrote at 7/23/2017 1:40:54 AM:

Why do you keep showing a metal home made gun? That thing isn't 3d printed.

George Colaluca wrote at 7/22/2017 9:44:40 PM:

I have seen regular guns blown apart by to heavy a load. I wouldn't want to test fire a gun made out of plastic.

Mbc wrote at 7/22/2017 7:27:56 PM:

Horrors. They are available for free if you know where to look! Prohibition didn't work for alcohol or drugs, why would it work for guns?!?

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