Breaking: DEFCAD’s 3D Printable Gun Files Held by US Government

By on May 9th, 2013 in Event, Usage

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An announcement suddenly appearing on Defense Distributed’s notifies visitors that the files containing 3D models of gun parts will no longer be available. 
The announcement says: 
DEFCAD files are being removed from public access at the request of the US Department of Defense Trade Controls. Until further notice, the United States government claims control of the information.
Evidently the US government considers the availability of such 3D models a serious matter. But what exactly is the US Department of Defense Trade Controls? Their mission is: 
The U.S. Government views the sale, export, and re-transfer of defense articles and defense services as an integral part of safeguarding U.S. national security and furthering U.S. foreign policy objectives. The Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC), in accordance with 22 U.S.C. 2778-2780 of the Arms Export Control Act (AECA) and the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) (22 CFR Parts 120-130), is charged with controlling the export and temporary import of defense articles and defense services covered by the United States Munitions List (USML).
Basically they ensure that weapons tech doesn’t leak out of the US into the hands of potential enemies. But DEFCAD isn’t exporting weapons, or are they?  
We think a strong case could be made that they do. By offering the files freely for download, anyone in the world can download them – and that’s exporting weapons data. Apparently the US Department of Defense Trade Controls thinks so, too. 
We suspect that DEFCAD might be able to get back in business by implementing a mechanism to ensure only Americans may download, but that could be a stretch considering individual Americans may offer the files in an open manner once they have them, resulting in precisely the same scenario. Perhaps the US Department of Defense Trade Controls wants to keep a lid on this while they sort out what to do. 
Stay tuned. 

By Kerry Stevenson

Kerry Stevenson, aka "General Fabb" has written over 8,000 stories on 3D printing at Fabbaloo since he launched the venture in 2007, with an intention to promote and grow the incredible technology of 3D printing across the world. So far, it seems to be working!


  1. Well, this is the silliest thing the federal government has done in quite a while. And those who desperately try to justify it — whether sincerely or not — are sillier still.

    But unlike the federal government, their silliness is not dangerous.

  2. This isn't surprising or a change in policy. ITAR regulations don't cover only physical import and export of weapons. I have a job that requires ITAR compliance, and it includes controlling who has access to data – including simple sight of designs/parts/etc. It's not at all unreasonable to consider an all-polymer gun a defense technology (not that they're hard to make); under ITAR regulations that means information about it should be restricted to "U.S. persons."

  3. First, it's STL, IGES, and OBJ files that are restricted and censored.
    Then, it's JPEGs, GIFs, and PDFs of blueprints.
    Then, it's text, forum posts, and blog updates.
    Then, it's books and manuals.
    Then, it's conversations.
    Then, it's thoughts.
    3D Firearms are just an excuse to exercise such control.

    Welcome to one possible future.

    I choose another future.

    The reality is, they can't stop the signal.

    Telling someone data is illegal only makes them want it more, and awakens them to the motives of the people who want to criminalize their interests.

    Dear State Department bureaucrats and micro-managers: good luck with your crusade to stomp out mean old gun files on the interwebz.
    Something tells me you don't root for the Browncoats when you watch Firefly, you purplebellies.

    John Bear Ross

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