The new technology is clearly in the wrong, trigger-happy hands. Now that the first metal gun has been created using a 3-D printer and it can fire 50 rounds, there’s no question firearm printing will get only more and more advanced. And it’s not something to take lightly.

Perhaps even more alarming is the fact that Solid Concepts, the Texas based company that developed the replica of a classic Browning 1911 pistol, can sell the printed parts within five days to pretty much anyone who fits the phrase “qualifying customer.” The Guardian reports:

Previous efforts by Cody Wilson to manufacture a gun using 3D printers caused concern in 2012 and later in 2013, when plastic pistols capable of firing a few shots before suffering catastrophic failure were successfully printed. At the time, the US State Department tried to block the distribution of the plans for the 3D printed gun because they could feasibly be downloaded and printed by anyone using low-cost desktop printers.

One US senator said in May that he would introduce a bill to ban the making of guns using 3D printers, though he does not seem to have taken the measure any further.

“We weren’t trying to figure out a cheaper, easier, better way to make a gun. That wasn’t the point at all. What we were trying to do is dispel the commonly held notion that [direct metal laser sintering] DMLS parts are not strong enough or accurate enough for real-world applications,” said Phillip Conner, DMLS project manager for Solid Concepts….

The DMLS printing process fuses metal powder into a solid part by melting it locally using a powerful focused laser beam, an industrial 3D printing process used to make metal parts for the aerospace industry as well as some bespoke surgical implants.

The company doesn’t need a licence to print the gun in some US states, but holds a licence to manufacture and distribute firearms in the US, allowing it to sell custom-made weapons.

The gun can hit bull’s-eyes more than 30 yards away, but not to worry, says Alyssa Parkinson of Solid Concepts. Metal guns can be made only using industrial printers that “cost more than my college tuition,” she notes. So not every Dick and Harry has access to printing metal guns in the comfort of their home—just the Dicks with money to spare.

—Posted by Natasha Hakimi

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