Cody Wilson of Defense Distributed has broken the game wide open with the release of “the Liberator” (dailymail.co.uk). I have a few questions. First, what is the cost of this thing? I don’t mean the social cost or the political capital cost or the legal cost. I’m talking about how much would it cost me to make my first 3d printed gun and how much would it cost for me to make the next gun. Like, if I need $3000 for the printer but then I have enough material with that to make 50 of the guns, then each gun only cost me $60.
Full disclosure: I have no intention or plan to personally purchase a 3d printer, nor do I intend on trying to acquire any sort of experimental weaponry at this time.
Nonetheless, the concept is interesting. However interesting it may be, the question remains: “How practical is 3d printing at this particular moment?” and if the answer is “not very” then the next question is, “When will 3d printing be a cheaper alternative to arming one’s self than the traditional route of buying a weapon from already established manufacturers through the already established channels? There’s no denying that a $5 3d printed gun is much more of a game changer than a $300 3d-printed gun. Until a plastic gun can be had for under $50, we’ll probably still be on the precipice of a tipping point.
As it is, New York ‘Senator’ Charles “Chuck” Schumer is already stumping for a ban on 3d printed weapons. I’m not so much appalled by the notion that the government wants to ban 3d printed weapons as an attempt to protect public safety. What appalls me is the idea that they actually believe or actually expect informed people to believe that they are capable of prohibiting 3d printing and various 3d printing applications. This technology will be used for more applications than one might possibly imagine, before very long. My estimate is a time frame of probably about 10-15 years.
I’d fully expect the landscape of “modern society” to look recognizably different by the year 2030. That’s not a highly-calculated estimate but rather an educated guess based on good information.