Here’s an interesting take on 3D printed weapons controversy from earlier this fall that addresses many of the steps involved with the complexity of this topic. Now, this was before the recent firing tests, before the elementary school shooting, and before the removal of gun-related parts from Thingiverse: the absence of these elements in the story can be distracting, but as the person sharing the tip to this story pointed out, more recent posts are, not surprisingly, so stirred up one way or another politically and emotionally that taking a look at this snapshot from the past is helpful. I agree. Because most of the recent posts about this topic at both extremes — I’m just not going to touch that stuff.
Welcome to the dark side of 3D printing.
The hobby is best known for creating colorful toys and trinkets, but some enthusiasts are working on design files that would allow anyone to print a working gun. These don’t exist yet, but some believe it’s only a matter of time.
Why would a 3D-printed gun be appealing? For one, it could potentially be cheap. You can buy a preassembled 3D printer for about $500. A spool of ABS plastic to print with goes for $50. Depending on where you shop, you can buy .38 Special ammunition for 30 cents a round. The plans will undoubted be distributed free like so many MP3s.
In fact, plans for working gun parts already exist. They can be found on a site called Thingiverse (EDIT: not anymore!) and on similar sites, alongside thousands of free plans for toys, jewelry, tools, and design equipment.
Every Thursday is #3dthursday here at Adafruit! The DIY 3D printing community has passion and dedication for making solid objects from digital models. Recently, we have noticed electronics projects integrated with 3D printed enclosures, brackets, and sculptures, so each Thursday we celebrate and highlight these bold pioneers!
Have you considered building a 3D project around an Arduino or other microcontroller? How about printing a bracket to mount your Raspberry Pi to the back of your HD monitor? And don’t forget the countless LED projects that are possible when you are modeling your projects in 3D!
The Adafruit Learning System has dozens of great tools to get you well on your way to creating incredible works of engineering, interactive art, and design with your 3D printer! If you’ve made a cool project that combines 3D printing and electronics, be sure to let us know, and we’ll feature it here!