Top Tech 2013 Day 3: 3d Printed Firearms

3d printing is one of the most talked about emerging technologies of our time, and for good reason. While it isn’t the universal cure-all to manufacturing and technology that some tout it as, it is absolutely a game changer. Additive manufacturing is more efficient in materials and energy than standard manufacturing, as well as being able to produce complicated internal structures. It’s much slower, but that doesn’t change the capabilities that it adds.

Since the dawn of 3d printing people have been wondering: how long until someone prints out a gun? It’s a nightmare for proponents of gun control at first glance, although in reality it wouldn’t be that much easier than producing a very rudimentary WWII style ‘zip-gun’. In January of this year, after a number of setbacks in mid through late 2012, Defense Distributed printed out an ammunition magazine for an AR, and successfully fired 86 rounds before it suffered mechanical failure.

This immediately caused engineers, policy-makers, and the public to sit up and take note. In May, Defense Distributed released the STL files for the first 3d printed gun on their website-and were immediately challenged by the U.S. Department of State.

The real difference between a 3d printed gun and a home manufactured gun isn’t in the here and now-3d printers still require knowledge to set up and use. But in future years, it won’t be rare for there to be 3d printers that require minimal engineering knowledge to use with the printing capabilities necessary to print out a gun. Policymakers are taking it into account, and there have been uneasy murmurs about the legal status of 3d printers.

Prokalkeo is of the opinion that informed policy decisions need to be made, and we’ve done research on this field (if you wish to contact us for more information). Until then, we will track what’s happening and predict what will happen next in this fascinating evolution of DIY manufacturing, and weapons policy.

More information can be found at

Defense Distributed: