Inevitably, controversy erupted upon the revelation that 3D printing weapons is actually feasible. Let's have a look at the implications.
First, what changes with this discovery? It proves that 3D printer owners in their own homes (and we'd guess there must be at least 20,000 of you out there, with many, many more arriving in upcoming years) can potentially print out parts from which actual weapons can be assembled.
But will this actually happen? We think this is inevitable, the frequency of it occurring is quite low, because aside from having an interest and intention to do so, you require basic 3D modeling skills, knowledge of firearm design, access to the non-3D printed metal parts and access to ammunition. Certainly some 3D printer owners will have all those things, but not nearly everyone.
Secondly, this development has spurred the ongoing debate on gun control in the United States. Debate rages on forums and blog posts. One one side, gun enthusiasts believe this could significantly weaken any future potential gun control legislation by making it much easier to obtain (or in this case create) your own weapons. On the other side, gun control advocates fear an avalanche of instant weapons appearing.
In other countries where gun control already exists this discovery could trigger good or bad developments, depending on the situation and your point of view. Will gun-free areas acquire weapons? Will revolutions take place in repressive societies? Will crime increase? Or decrease?
We don't know the answers to these questions, but we suspect they'll be answered in the next few years.