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What’s In a Name?

May 13, 2013

I’m a big fan of 3D printing.  I think 3D printing could be the semi-conductor of the 2000’s… that is, the technology that builds all the future technologies for the next 50 years.  In fact, if you’re a young’n about to graduate, I’d head for a 3D printer company so you can say “you were there” when it all took off.  Trust me, it’s a cool feeling.

That said, 3D printers have a way to go.  Notably, everyone is bunched up in a wad because someone dropped a design for a gun on a 3D printer.  But is it all that real, or useful?  Check The Register.

When the nail hits the cap in the cartridge base in a Liberator, the expanding gas likewise pushes the lead bullet off the end of the cartridge and down the “barrel” pipe. Much of the gas leaks past due to the loose fit and soft material of the “barrel”. The lump of plastic with the nail (probably) stops the cartridge case spitting out of the back, which is pretty easy as the bullet pops out of the extremely short, basically smooth* “barrel” almost immediately with very little push from the gas required. Most of the cartridge’s hot gas spills out of the muzzle without getting a chance to do any work on the bullet, which is the main reason the cruddy “barrel” doesn’t (always) come to bits on the first shot and the cartridge case (probably) doesn’t just spit backward into the user’s face.

…which is something akin to what I thought when I saw the specs.  This will scare people who don’t have a clue about how a gun actually works.  It will excite people for the potential of the technology.  It won’t impress someone with a Glock when you’re standing at the range.

So what we have here is not, as everyone is saying, proof that 3D printers can be used to make guns. It’s proof that they can’t, and that 3D printing at the moment is basically pretty useless.

But my word, people are excited.

I love it that the dialog on this has started to go so far that it’s distracting people from actually, you know, banning guns.  Not that anyone is outright banning them… they’re just trying to lay the groundwork.

One of my favorite things to do is to examine corner cases in a strategy.  By asking about the edges, I can tell how well-thought the strategy is.  It’s clear that a corner case like a printed gun makes the strategy of the anti-gun crowd seem pretty insufficient.  It’s also clear that this is not a rescue option for the pro-gun crowd.

But it’s fun to watch, even if it fizzles on its way out the barrel.

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