How 3D Printing Technology Can be Pathbreaking

The 3D printing industry boasts that its machines let anyone make anything. Cody Wilson made a lethal weapon

Published: May 24, 2013 06:57:59 AM IST
Updated: May 15, 2013 01:27:59 PM IST
How 3D Printing Technology Can be Pathbreaking
Image: Michael Thad Carter for Forbes

Eight months ago, University of Texas law student Cody Wilson, 25 (above), and his group of high-tech, libertarian gunsmiths set out to create the world’s first lethal firearm that anyone could download and fabricate with a 3D printer, a machine that prints solid objects as easily as a traditional printer puts ink on a page. In early May, Forbes got the first look at the ‘Liberator’, a fire-ready, 3D-printed handgun. The government has already taken aim, with Congressmen demanding new laws to ban the so-called ‘Wiki Weapon’. Now, 3D printing may find itself squarely in the political crossfire.

How 3D Printing Technology Can be Pathbreaking
A piece of the Liberator’s trigger being printed in a Stratasys 3D printer, a process that takes just minutes. A barrel prints in a few hours, the gun’s body overnight.

How 3D Printing Technology Can be Pathbreaking
The Liberator’s 16 pieces, all but one of which are 3D printed. The only non-printed component? A common hardware store nail used as the firing pin.

How 3D Printing Technology Can be Pathbreaking
Forbes witnessed two successful tests of the Liberator, first with the remote trigger pull pictured here and later the first hand-firing of the weapon.

(This story appears in the 31 May, 2013 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)

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  • Krishnan S

    Is it that easy to \"3D-print\" components and assemble them ? How does this printer differ from known numerical control machines, EDM machines that can fabricate components, that too from given metal/non-metal pieces ? This is very interesting !!!

    on May 24, 2013