3d printing

Court victory legalizes 3D-printable gun blueprints

Posted by | 3d printing, defense distributed, Gadgets, Government, guns, lawsuit, Security | No Comments

A multi-year legal battle over the ability to distribute computer models of gun parts and replicate them in 3D printers has ended in defeat for government authorities who sought to prevent the practice. Cody Wilson, the gunmaker and free speech advocate behind the lawsuit, now intends to expand his operations, providing printable gun blueprints to all who desire them.

The longer story of the lawsuit is well told by Andy Greenberg over at Wired, but the decision is eloquent on its own. The fundamental question is whether making 3D models of gun components available online is covered by the free speech rights granted by the First Amendment.

This is a timely but complex conflict because it touches on two themes that happen to be, for many, ethically contradictory. Arguments for tighter restrictions on firearms are, in this case, directly opposed to arguments for the unfettered exchange of information on the internet. It’s hard to advocate for both here: restricting firearms and restricting free speech are one and the same.

That at least seems to be conclusion of the government lawyers, who settled Wilson’s lawsuit after years of court battles. In a copy of the settlement provided to me by Wilson, the U.S. government agrees to exempt “the technical data that is the subject of the Action” from legal restriction. The modified rules should appear in the Federal Register soon.

What does this mean? It means that a 3D model that can be used to print the components of a working firearm is legal to own and legal to distribute. You can likely even print it and use the product — you just can’t sell it. There are technicalities to the law here (certain parts are restricted, but can be sold in an incomplete state, etc.), but the implications as regards the files themselves seems clear.

Wilson’s original vision, which he is now pursuing free of legal obstacles, is a repository of gun models, called DEFCAD, much like any other collection of data on the web, though naturally considerably more dangerous and controversial.

“I currently have no national legal barriers to continue or expand DEFCAD,” he wrote in an email to TechCrunch. “This legal victory is the formal beginning to the era of downloadable guns. Guns are as downloadable as music. There will be streaming services for semi-automatics.”

The concepts don’t map perfectly, no doubt, but it’s hard to deny that with the success of this lawsuit, there are few legal restrictions to speak of on the digital distribution of firearms. Before it even, there were few technical restrictions: certainly just as you could download MP3s on Napster in 2002, you can download a gun file today.

Gun control advocates will no doubt argue that greater availability of lethal weaponry is the opposite of what is needed in this country. But others will point out that in a way this is a powerful example of how liberally free speech can be defined. It’s important to note that both of these things can be true.

This court victory settles one case, but marks the beginnings of many another. “I have promoted my values for years with great care and diligence,” Wilson wrote. It’s hard to disagree with that. Those whose values differ are free to pursue them in their own way; perhaps they too will be awarded victories of this scale.

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This autonomous 3D scanner figures out where it needs to look

Posted by | 3d printing, 3d scanning, artificial intelligence, Europe, fraunhofer, Gadgets, hardware, TC | No Comments

 If you need to make a 3D model of an object, there are plenty of ways to do so, but most are only automated to the extent that they know how to spin in circles around that object and put together a mesh. This new system from Fraunhofer does it more intelligently, getting a basic idea of the object to be scanned and planning out what motions will let it do so efficiently and comprehensively. Read More

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Holography-based 3D printing produces objects in seconds instead of hours

Posted by | 3d printing, Gadgets, LLNL, TC | No Comments

 3D printers are useful devices for all kinds of reasons, but most have a critical weakness: they simply take a long time to actually make anything. That’s because additive manufacturing generally works by putting down an object one microscopic layer at a time. But a new holographic printing technique makes it possible to create the entire thing at once — in as little as a second… Read More

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3D printing brain scans helps doctors with a tricky diagnosis

Posted by | 3d printing, Gadgets, Health, multiple sclerosis, science, TC | No Comments

 When there’s a problem in the brain, it pays to be precise — every millimeter counts with something like a tumor or blocked artery. But it can be extremely difficult to understand the exact shape and size of these things, which makes them difficult to diagnose and treat, as well. But 3D printing a replica of the growth or damage may make doctors better able to do so. Read More

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XYZPrinting announces a $3,000 full-color 3D printer

Posted by | 3d printing, Gadgets, graphic design, ifa 2017, office equipment, printer, printing, TC | No Comments

 Full-color 3D printing at home has long been a wild-eyed dream of consumers and hobbyists alike. Thus far it’s been fun to print out little trinkets in a single color, but to create something more akin to a painted action figure would be a game-changer. And, thanks to inkjet technology, we just might have reached that milestone. XYZprinting, the maker of the popular Da Vinci line of… Read More

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3D-printed space habitats earn $400K in prizes at NASA competition

Posted by | 3d printing, Gadgets, NASA, Space, TC | No Comments

 One of the many considerations we will have should we decide at last to colonize another planet is where we’ll live. Should we bring inflatable habitats? Should we ship girders and metal sheets? Or should we 3D-print the structures right there on the planet in question? Two universities’ early efforts to do so earned them a combined $400,000 at a NASA competition held last week. Read More

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Markforged announces two 3D printers that produce items as strong as steel

Posted by | 3d printing, Gadgets, industrial design, manufacturing, markforged, printer, printing, TC, technology, typography | No Comments

 Markforged, a 3D printer manufacturer based in Boston, has just announced two new models — the X3 and the X5. Both of these printers are designed to create carbon fiber-infused objects using a standard filament printing system and both can produce items that can replace or are stronger than steel objects. Both printers have auto-leveling and scanning systems to ensure each printed object… Read More

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This 3D-printed robotic arm is built for sign language

Posted by | 3d printing, Gadgets, robotics, Sign Language, TC | No Comments

 While we usually see robotics applied to industrial or research applications, there are plenty of ways they could help in everyday life as well: an autonomous guide for blind people, for instance, or a kitchen bot that helps disabled folks cook. Or — and this one is real — a robot arm that can perform rudimentary sign language. Read More

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Protecting 3D printers from cyberattacks could be as simple as listening carefully

Posted by | 3d printing, Gadgets, Security, TC | No Comments

 As 3D printers grow smarter and continue to embed themselves in manufacturing and product creation processes, they are exposed to online malefactors just like every other device and network. Security researchers suggest a way to prevent hackers from sabotaging the outputs of 3D printers: listen very, very carefully. Read More

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3D-printed fruit will help your real apples taste better

Posted by | 3d printing, EMPA, fruition sciences, Gadgets, Startups, TC | No Comments

 There may be a pretender in your next box of fruit, a fake fruit that tracks temperatures, motion and shocks to ensure your plums are sweet and hard and your peaches are pretty as can be. Created by Empa, the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology, the project involves a 3D-printed apple that hides in with all the real apples and contains a number of sensors.… Read More

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