Many believe that the future of printing is in 3D, which enables companies and even novices to design whatever they want and "print" it into a real-world device.
Now, a group has a proof-of-concept that such a dream could be a reality. Only this device is a gun.
Defense Distributed, a Texas-based group working toward nonprofit status, has given Forbes images of what is being called the world's first 3D-printed handgun. The gun is capable of firing standard handgun rounds and is made entirely of plastic, except for a nail that's being used as a firing pin and a six-ounce piece of steel that's designed solely to allow the gun to be detected by metal detectors.
Cody Wilson, head of Defense Distributed, announced plans to produce a 3D-printed gun last year. It took just eight months for Wilson and others in Defense Distributed to produce the gun they call the "Liberator."
According to Forbes, the gun is capable of connecting to different barrels, allowing for various calibers of ammunition. After the organization can ensure that it's working properly, it plans to publish the CAD files and details on its mechanics to its Web site to share with the public.
As one might expect, given the recent rash of gun violence, Wilson's creation has caught the attention of some who say that 3D printing can be used for other means than creating a gun. Stratasys, a company that produces 3D printers, took back their device from Defense Distributed last year after the company discovered the printer was being used for gun development. There's also talk among lawmakers of adding a 3D-printing provision to the U.S. Undetectable Firearms Act, which requires that all guns are capable of being detected by law enforcement tools.
Defense Distributed plans to release more details on its handgun in the coming weeks.