The world of three-dimensional printing has never been so much alive and talked about as it is today. It has already taken the US by storm and looks to be making a serious impact around the globe in so many ways. News headlines have broken in the UK, revealing that detectives in Greater Manchester have found evidence including a plastic magazine, trigger and a 3d printer, which points to the first attempts at replicating a firearm in the UK.
The evidence that has been seized proves that there was intention to create a fully functioning 3d printed gun. One can’t help but wonder how many more people are using this technology for this purpose? This has widened security fears in the UK with the possibility of organized crime gangs being able to get their hands on printed guns made from undetected materials and flood the streets with these firearms. This is a scary, but real possibility.
The printing technology allows the user to download open blueprints from online and then print it within the privacy of their own home. This in turn gives the opportunity for privately arming gangs creating more misery and mayhem in communities. However, even though guns have been printed and function, many do not have the capacity to continue firing after a few rounds.
The 3D printer uses additive manufacturing that creates an initial layer, and then fuses layer after layer on top until the object is finished. With a wide range of raw materials available to use, this means that guns can be made from plastics, carbon fiber, and other materials that can easily go undetected by x-ray and metal scanners.
This is a new milestone in the UK and is real evidence that the battle against the weapon of the next generation is well underway and should be seriously focused upon. One can easily pick up a 3d printer for around £1500 and upwards on the high street, in May this year the first ever 3d printed gun was fully assembled and fired in the US by Defense Distributed.
The gun’s creators, Defense Distributed, have made their intentions clear and plan to make their blueprints available online. This has spread fear over Europe with Europol dreading that criminals can easily get a hold of this technology increasing gun-related crimes.