Nov 23, 2017 | By David

We’ve reported before on some of the more troubling aspects of the ongoing consumer 3D printing boom, with the potential proliferation of 3D printed firearms being one of the most worrying possibilities. Customs officials in Sweden are the latest group to go public with their worries about this new kind of digital homemade weapon. They are afraid that 3D printing technology could allow terrorists and other bad dudes to easily produce their own deadly weapons, in a way that would be entirely undetectable by authorities.

Homemade guns are, of course, far from being a new development, even in a relatively safe country such as Sweden. What is novel with the use of 3D printing technology is just how easy they now are for someone to produce and assemble. A digital file, downloaded for free online, and a basic consumer desktop 3D printer would be all that was required to make a huge variety of lethal firearms.

Recent research was carried out by Sweden's National Forensic Center in this area, and they confirmed beyond doubt that a 3D printed firearm could shoot to kill. "It is possible to 3D print weapons that can fire live rounds. There is no doubt about that," said forensic scientist Patrik Hertzman, from Linköping.

The overwhelming majority of consumer 3D printers are FDM machines, which print with plastic filaments. This means that an increase in 3D printed weapons would also mean an increase in plastic weapons, which are easy to get past metal detectors and other kinds of safety and security checks that are intended to find conventional metal-based guns.

According to Karl Hetting of the Customs Information Service, we could soon see a rise in this kind of 3D printed plastic firearm being used in terrorist attacks: ''They can be used in many environments. It includes airports, the house of parliament or other types of restricted facilities and places, where armed people are not allowed."

Police in the Swedish city of Malmo discovered a cache of 3D printed firearms earlier this year, and were shocked at how advanced many of them were. One of the seized weapons resembled the Czech sub-machine gun Scorpion, but was a .22 caliber. The rate of fire of many of the guns was a real cause for concern. The police believed that some of the weapon parts, like pipes or magazines, were probably sourced from conventionally made weapons, while other parts were made using a 3D printer to easily modify a basic design according to the user’s needs.

These guns could even be made from a group of very simple components that individually do not resemble anything like a weapon, but could be easily put together on demand in order to carry out an atrocity. The law doesn’t currently take into account these new possibilities presented by 3D printing, according to Malmo police officer Stefan Sinteus: "It's not punishable to possess different plastic parts, only putting them together makes them actually a weapon. The plain fact that they actually work makes me think about how effective the current arms legislation is".



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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Richard wrote at 11/29/2017 6:52:01 PM:

Barry: they keep posting pictures of non-3d printed weapons because they think we’re stupid and don’t know the difference. Actually the top picture is of a weapon where the outside is 3d printed, but the barrel, action and possibly some other parts are metal, making it detectable. Then if it has any bullets, the bullets are metal and detectable. The “undetectable” part of the story is false. What bothers wannabe dictators is that weapons can be manufactured outside of normal channels, therefore can’t be tracked and traced. That’s not counting smuggling.

Barry wrote at 11/26/2017 3:11:51 PM:

Why do you guys keep posting a picture of non-3d printed weapons claiming they are 3d printed?

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