We've been reading two pieces on the topic of 3D printed guns, one by Reason.com and the other from Design News.
For those who somehow haven't yet heard of the controversy, it seems that more than one group has decided to test the feasibility of 3D printed guns. The technical feasibility has been proven; such printed guns have successfully shot bullets. What's at issue is the other feasibility: legality.
There are many strong opinions on this story; some, like Thingiverse, prevent weapon designs from appearing in their 3D model repository, while Stratasys revoked the lease on the 3D printer used to perform a weapon experiment. Others believe in the right to bear arms and continue to pursue the project.
It may be shocking to some that it may be possible to "print" a weapon out of thin air at home, but we think this isn't as shocking as one might believe. Consider that present gun designs require various metal parts to operate - making the guns detectable. Even future all-plastic designs still require bullets, detectable by gunpowder residue.
Meanwhile, metal guns are far more capable than anything printed in plastic. But many people already have equipment at home fully capable of making guns out of metal.
How many? More than there are 3D printers in the world.