Essay: 3D printable gun by Defense Distributed


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Essay: 3D printable gun by Defense Distributed

  1. 1. 3D printingDoes it pose a threat to our existence?Xue JiangRianne Links Dominic Perera
  2. 2. 0. ContentsIntroduction Everyone 3What is 3D printing? Rianne Links 4Stakeholder Network 6 Human Rianne Links 7 Non Human Xui Jiang 12Technological DeterministicApproach Dominic Perera 16Social ConstructivismApproach Dominic Perera 19Conclusion Everyone 21Bibliography Everyone 22Infographic: Timeline of Events Rianne Links 26
  3. 3. 1. IntroductionSince the early 90s, the use of 3D printers are on the increase, gaining popularity in both industrial and domesticsectors. Following a video made by Defense Distributed (a collective group of friends) on a 3D printable gun,governments and 3D printer manufacturers have raised their concerns - overlapping freedom and crime.The paper will attempt to explore how a 3D printable gun can pose a threat to our security, outlining human andnon-human factors involved. Can we trust the person next to us? Is it ethical to print a gun in our garage or backyard?Who will have access to 3D printers? Teenagers? These are some of the issues deeply concerning our rights tofreedom, information and security.To get a better view of all the factors that influence the 3D printable gun, reference the visual representation at the endof this paper of all the factors involved.
  4. 4. 2. About the3D printer3D printer are used in the industry for years now but only more recent they became popular with normal customers.The prices of a 3D printer have been decreased from up to 1 million dollar to as little as 1.000 dollar. But what is 3Dprinting exactly and how can it be used? 1What is a 3D printer?As a rapid manufacturing technique, 3D printing is quite different from 2D printing on paper. A 3D printer constructsan object out of plastic, creating it layer by layer. The 3D printer uses a digital Computer Aided Design (CAD) that youcan make yourself or download online. There are lots of 3D designs online available for things you might need: flowervases, bracelets and much more. It is also possible to create your own design, using for example CAD or even GoogleSketchup. 2History of 3D printing3D printers have been around since the 1980, but where large, expensive and very limited for a long period of time.The term ‘3D printer’ has been used first in 1995 by two graduate students at MIT who changed a normal inkjet printerinto a printer that that prints a binding solution.1
  5. 5. Possibilities3D printing is becoming more and more mainstream to use in a commercial setting too. Nike, for example, used tospend thousands of Dollars to create multi-colored prototypes of shoes and they had to wait weeks to develop. Nowthat they use a 3D printer to print these models, they can print multiple prototypes per day for a lot less money.ThreatsThe rise of the 3D printer brings a lot of opportunities, but there are also a couple of threats that we need to be awareof. With the possibility to print anything you want, how many times you want, economies of scale decrease. For exam-ple, if you make a certain object in a factory, the costs decrease the more of this object you develop. With the use of a3D printer, it doesn’t matter how much of the exact same object you make. The object can be tweaked as often as youlike and this will not affect the costs. 3Another thread might be the copyright issues. What are the copyrights on an object that you have printed using your3D printer? What are the rules when it comes to printing for example keys? These are topics that that might need tobe covered in new regulations around 3D printing. 4The final threat is the possibility to print almost anything that you can think of, even dangerous objects like guns. Thisis the main focus of this essay.3
  6. 6. 3. StakeholderNetworkThere are a lot of actors involved, both human and non-human. This chapter will give an overview of the human andthe non human actors.
  7. 7. Human ActorsDefense Distributed: who are involved?Cody Rutledge Wilson and a couple of his friends decided to work together under a collective name to make3D printable guns: Defense Distributed. This is not a company or corporation, they just work together under thisname.5 The other people involved are Benjamin W. Denio, Sean Kublin, Haroon Khalid, Propagare, Daniel J. Bizzell,Brad Bridges, C.G. Hancock. Some of them are using their own name and others are using pseudonyms. Two of themlink to their personal Twitter profiles: Cody Rutledge Wilson, who is the spokesperson, and Propagare.6Maker of 3D printer that is usedIn their promotional video, Defense Distributed told that they are focussing on the hobbyists; people who made theirown RepRap printer, or people who bought a commercial printer. They were testing their design using the Mojo 3Dprinter5 7 and the uPrint SE 3D printer, both made by Stratesys.8 On September 26th, it became clear that StratesysInc. was not too happy that their 3D printer was used for this. They sent a note to Defense Distributed that their leasewas going to be cancelled because Defense Distributed doesn’t have a federal firearm manufacturer’s license, soStratasys seized their printer.9 10Maker of the design of the gunsDefense Distributed has three guns. One of them is already available as a download: the AR-15. This gun is designedby Michael Guslick, an amateur gunsmith, using the username HaveBlue on the AR-15 forum. The designs for theother 2 guns, the WikiWep A and B, will become available in November 2012, according to the Defense Distributedwebsite.11People who have donated money to Defense DistributedDefense Distributed needed $ 20.000 in donations to execute the project. They started raising this money frominternet donors in July 2012 via the crowdsourcing website IndiGoGo and later via their own website.12 OnSeptember 19th they reached their goal. They raised around $ 2.000 via IndiGoGo and the rest via their own website.After they raised $ 10.000, an anonymous donor doubled this to $ 20.000 so that they reached their goal.5
  8. 8. Cody Wilson says about the contributors:“They wanted to get this done, I think it shows they really believe in a future where the gun is inalienable…a kind offaith in American individualism, the sovereignty of the individual.”- Cody WilsonPeople commenting on Defense Dist websiteDefense Distributed has a commenting function on 23 pages on their website.13 A few of the pages have a lot ofcomments (between 10 and 50). Those pages are the FAQ page, the Manifesto and the page about the AR-15 gundesign. FAQ The comments on this page mainly agree with the idea behind this project, but do not think that a gun is the right way to show the world that information should be free in the age of the internet and technology.14 “I don’t follow your gun logic. Certainly we can think of more suitable & humanitarian uses for a technology powerful enough to cheaply ‘print’ virtually anything non-organic into existence… What result was intended when the decision to start with the gun was made?” - Justin Manifesto Most of the comments on this page are saying that the manifesto is not good enough. Both people who are pro or against the idea of a printable gun agree that the manifesto needs to be better.15 AR-15 gun design The comments on this page are mainly a discussion about if it is legal to use this gun. Several reasons are named why it might not be legal and why it might be legal.16 “I’m excited about this technology, but what about the requirement of serial numbers?” - Nicolem13
  9. 9. People who comment on social mediaDefense Distributed is active on several social media sites; Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Facebook The 295 people (at the time of writing) who liked their Facebook page are all interested in this concept. Some of them are believe in the concept, some of them are sceptical.17 Occasionally someone posts a com- ment about the 3D printable gun on their facebook page. Since the start of the Facebook page on August 24th, 24 people commented with their ideas about this project. Most of them are positive reviews, for example this one: “This is probably the most amazing project I have ever seen. I hope you guys get this off the ground level and make something revolutionary out of it.” - Griffith Hughes Twitter Defense Distributed has 1154 followers on Twitter (at the time of writing). There is not much interaction going on with their followers. The account has only 186 tweets.18 YouTube Defense Distributed posted their video on YouTube on July 27th 2012. Since then, around 90.000 people watched the video and more than 1.200 commented on it. The people who have commented on this video are less informed than the ones on the Defense Distributed website, therefor the opinions are not very nu- anced.19 “Oh good. I was starting to worry that America didn’t have enough cheap easily accessible firearms to go around. /sarcasm” - Senfen AR-15 forum The designer of the AR-15 3D print design posted his testing results on the AR-15 forum under the name of HaveBlue. This post has approximately 200 comments, most of them really positive. The comments are mostly from other gun making hobbyists and are mainly about the technical side and do not focus on the ethical issues.2017
  10. 10. “Nice, glad someone finally got around to it” - RDTCU Blog of designer of AR-15 Michael Guslick, the designer of the printable parts of the AR-15 wrote 3 blogs about this design under the name of HaveBlue, on his website with the same name. The first blog has 38 comments, the second one has 57 comments and the third one 15. The comments on these blogs mainly focus on the ethical issues regarding how legal it is to print your own gun, using a 3D printer.21 “You have just turned the 3d printer into ‘dangerous goods’, thanks a lot. There is always one that has to wreck it for the rest of us. Now the government will try to take them away or legislate them.” - AnonymousExpert’s viewSeveral experts in the field of 3D printing and experts in the field of gun development have commented on the 3Dprintable guns from Defense Distributed. Andrew Blake RT Web producer Andrew Blake did an interview about this subject with RT, a Russian/English news channel. He states that 3D printers are becoming more mainstream and cheaper to buy. That is why more and more people will have their own 3D printer. This brings a lot of opportunities, but also some threats. The printable gun is one of them. People who don’t have a gun license are also able to print this gun and use it. Those are the main concerns of Andrew Blake.22Movements against the printable gunOf course, not everyone is a proponent of the possibility to print your own gun. There are some movement against theDefense Distributed. Stratasys Defense Distributed used to use 2 different 3D printers from Stratesys: the Mojo 3D printer and the uPrint SE 3D printer. Stratasys didn’t want their name to be associated with printing guns, so they ended their lease.2321
  11. 11. CSGV The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence (CSGV) in the United States is not happy with the 3D printable guns of Defense Distributed. On their Facebook page, they made several comments addressing this issue.24People who download and print the gunIt is at this point not possible to see how many people have downloaded the design of the AR-15 gun. From the com-ments on this website25, the blog26 and the AR-15 forum27, we do know that the people who downloadedthe design are either amature gunsmiths, interested in guns or interested in 3D printing. The amature gunsmiths areinterested in creating their own gun and tweaking it to make it even more personalized for them. People who areinterested in guns are mainly looking for a cheaper way to get a gun. People who are interested in 3D printing want toknow more about the possibilities of 3D printing.People who use the gunUp until now, Michael Guslick is the only one who has actually used the AR-15 3D printed gun. To test the gun, hefired 200 shots. The results were positive: the 3D printed part of the gun didn’t break and worked fine.28People who were harmed by one of the gunsUp until now, no one has been harmed by one of the guns.25
  12. 12. Non Human ActorsWebsitesThe Defense Distributed website became more and more popular after many websites wrote about the story thatWilson (the director of the Defense Distributed ) and his group doing the 3D printable gun.“A Cody Wilson, the law student at the University of Texas leading the group, says: “In the future, no one is goingto be able to decide who has a gun but you. This is a project that intends to help subvert older hierarchies and theseolder modes of thinking.”- Mic Wright (2012)28 Defense Distributed is a website built up by a group of libertarian gun lovers from different backgrounds who want to spread the idea of printing 3D guns to public and get donated by more people from the world.29 Defense Dist lists three guns: the AR-15, the WikiWep A and WikiWep B. At this moment it is only possible to print the 3D file for the AR-15 gun. The lower receiver of this gun is printable with a 3D printer. This file is designed by Michael Guslick. For encouraging more people to take part in design the weapon file, Defense Dist also set up a wiki weapon design contest, the first winner will get $ 3.000. This is a crowdsourcing method to attract more public to contribute to this weapon file design. Crowdfunding site: IndieGoGo Since Defense Distributed is not able to finance this whole project by themselves, they decided to start a fundraising on IndieGoGo to ask for donations. IndieGoGo is a website that people can use to search for donations for all kinds of projects.30 It plays a significant role and help this gun group to get fund and plan for their weapon project. After 22 days, IndieGoGo stopped their project because they discovered project of printing guns was illegal. At that time the Defense Distribute have already received $ 20.000 of funding. After that they decided to continue this fundraising on their own website.31 YouTube Defense Distributed put the video on YouTube using the account of DXLiberty. This video called ‘The Wiki Weapon’, Cody Wilson explains their project of the 3D printable guns; how it works, which printer they are28
  13. 13. using and who is involved. At this moment the video got 886.366 views. 1.301 people clicked the ‘like’ but- ton, 579 people said they do not like the video. 1.243 people commented on the video.32 Another video of RT, a Russian / English news channel posted a video about this subject called “Make a Working GUN using a 3D Printer! 100% Legal. Amature GunSmith Makes an AR-15 Rifle”. This video has 56.567 views. 101 people liked the video and 52 people disliked it and there are 203 comments under the video at the writing of this paper.33 Twitter Defense Distributed has their own Twitter account.34 This account has 1,509 followers and 186 Tweets. Cody Wilson, the starter of Defense Distributed, also has a personal Twitter account where he talks about the 3D printable guns.35 This account has 260 followers and Wilson wrote 5,182 Tweets. Many of the Tweets talk about new technologies. Blogs is an Irish blog about the designs of 3D printable guns. This blog is written by Gunnar Threedis (2012)36. It talks about 3D printing and is written from September until now. Most of them talk about 3D printing and promoting new technology, but others of them also mentioned 3D printing for guns,they also have their Twitter called @3Dgundesigns37. but they only have 3 followers at this moment. As Nick Bilson (2012) mentioned in his article, Michael Guslick (Have Blue) wrote a lot of blogs on Have Under the categories of RepRap, there are mainly 3 blog posts that talk about the process of designing and manufacturing the AR-15 3D printable gun. These blog posts are named Gunsmithing with a 3D printer – Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3. “He said the most notable example was the zip gun, which is made from off-the-shelf plumbing parts. (Not surprisingly, the schematics and instructions can be downloaded online.)” - Nick Bilson (2012)32
  14. 14. Guslick wrote these articles so that people who are interested in 3D Printable guns can get a clear overview of the process. People can comment and share their ideas with HaveBlue. AR-15 forum The NRA set up a website for AR-15 ,they concentrates on AR-15 guns.39 The members of this group upload all kinds of information about different parts and instructions of AR-15 forum online.There are 1,269 Team Members, 1,310 Members, and 3,742 Guests until now on this website . Facebook Defense Distributed has their own Facebook page. This page has 295 ‘likes’ and at this moment around 20 people are talking about this project. They started this Facebook page on 24th of August 2012.40Raw materials (Plastic)“Mr. Guslick managed to print some components for an AR-15 semiautomatic assault rifle — the kind of gun used inthe Aurora, Colo., shootings — on a 3D printer. He used ABS plastic, the same plastic used to make Legos.”- Nick Bilson(2012)41The plastics that is used for 3D printing are Thermoplastics. There are different kind of thermoplastics that can all beused for 3D printing: ABS, ABSi, ABS-ESD7, ABS-M30, ABS-M30i, PC, PC-ISO, PC/ABS, ULTEM, PPSU. They havedifferent durability, strength, tensile.42“For now, the task isn’t as easy as hitting print, say the few people who have successfully built guns using 3Dprinters. The basic problem is not the printing technology, but the lack of plastics strong enough for a real gun.”- Nick Bilson(2012)3D printerDefense Distributed has been using 2 3D printers, both made by Stratasys:43 Mojo 3D Printer The Mojo 3D printer from Stratasys is the printer that Defense Distributed started to use in the beginning. It is an affordable but professional printer.39
  15. 15. uPrint SE 3D Printer Two months later it becomes clear that Defense Distributed switched to the uPrint Se printer, also from Stratasys. This printer is more expensive than that Mojo printer. On September 26th though, Stratasys seized their printer due to the possible illegal activities of Defense Distributed.Main technology and the priceStratasys uses the ‘Fused Deposition Modeling’. It is explained on their website that their technology produces partslayer-by-layer in engineering-grade thermoplastics under high heat.3D printers are becoming faster and less expensive almost weekly. One manufacturer, MakerBot, has set up a retailstore in Manhattan. Chinese companies have started making them, and prices are falling to about $500.- Nick Bilton(2012)44Defense Distributed mobile appDefense Dist has their own Android app for users to share information and communicate with each other. It contains aquestion part for users to ask all kinds of questions, a video part containing videos with more backgroundinformation, a download part where you can download the 3D gun files, a sharing part to share all kinds of informationthrough social media and a donate option to donate money to Defense Distributed.45The part of gun that is not printableDefense Distributed list three guns on their website,The AR-15,The WikiWeapon A and the WikiWeapon B. The AR-15is the only gun that is already available for download. For this gun it is only possible to print the lower receiver of thegun.46The print design for the WikiWeapon A is not available yet. This gun is going to be printable, it only needs an electricalsolenoid for firing action.47 The print of the WikiWeapon B is not available yet either. This gun is going to be completelyprintable, you do not need any external products.4844
  16. 16. 4. TechnologicalDeterministicApproachThe Second Amendment of the United States constitution clearly states that it “protects the right of the people to keepand bear arms.”49 That said, using a 3D printer to manufacture a firearm in the convenience of your bedroom or back-yard is altogether a different matter. Mr. Nick Bilton from the New York Times says “a felon, unable to buy a gun legallycan print one at home.”50He also stresses that teenagers with access to 3D printers can make them while their parents think they are “playingwith their computers.”51 This unconceivable notion of printing a fully functional gun, where the blueprint is freelyavailable to download from the internet, all just with a click of a button.52 Mr. Bilton also points out that any individualwith access to a 3D printer will not be restricted to any background checks, age limits, serial numbers marked on theguns or sales receipts to trace the gun.53 A blogger agrees with this.49 ibid52 bid53 bid
  17. 17. “My issue with it isn’t with the fact that they are printing the gun, and the financial impact on manufactur- ers. My beef with it is that people can acquire a firearm without having to go through any of the necessary background checks.” - Matthew Morgan54Moreover, Mr. Wilson - the founder of Defense Distributed, in a video says, “We will have the reality of a weaponssystem that can be printed out from your desk. Anywhere there is a computer, there is a weapon.”55 Daniel Gross,president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and the Bray Centre to Prevent Gun Violence also said. “This becomes scary when you consider the fact that it could be yet another opportunity for people to evade background checks and get a gun,” 56 - Daniel GrossHowever, under most circumstances, it is not illegal to build your own gun, but it has been somewhat difficult.57 Ms.Ginger Colburn, a spokeswoman for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said the agency waskeeping a close watch on the 3D printers.58 “A.T.F. always tries to stay ahead of the illegal activity and the novel firearms trafficking schemes, without impinging on individuals’ rights.” - Ginger Colburn 59Mr. Bilton from NewYork Times further argues that it would be impossible to monitor whether people make their gunson 3D printers. He points out that it would take an ATF agent in every home.60 Bilton further explains, that the inevi-table action by the government to try to build technology in to the printers to prevent people from printing a gun isutterly hopeless. 3D printers can print objects meaning it is capable of replicating it self by printing other printer parts.Stephen Grimmelikhuijsen of the Dutch newspaper, The Economist, recently labeled the 3D printer to the “ThirdRevolution”, putting pressure on the government consider the implications for society and the public sector.61 He says“ 3D printing screams for renewed regulation”. On another page he says ”3D printing can also have an effect on theprocesses in the government itself. Thus services even further disconnected from place and time.”6254 ibid59 ibid60 sleutels-en-wapens-dit-schreeuwt-om-nieuwe-regelgeving.dhtml62 ibid
  18. 18. When it comes to 3D printers it apparent that 3D printers are causing the governments massive problems. Ratherthan finding a solution to regulate 3D printers or license gun manufacturers.Following growing number of concernson he Defense Distributed website, Stratasys - 3D printer company which sold a 3D printer, withdrew its lease stat-ing “You have also made it clear that you do not have a federal firearms manufacturers license. Based upon your lackof a license and your public statements regarding your intentions in using our printer, Stratasys disagrees with youropinion,” Legal counsel for Stratasys wrote to the group’s leader, University of Texas law student Cody Wilson. “It isthe policy of Stratasys not to knowingly allow its printers to be used for illegal purposes.”63These insights and discussions take a remarkable correlation to a technologically deterministic view. This manner ofthinking largely ignores the human element as the initial issue and that without a 3D printer, a printable gun wouldhave never taken place, resulting in inevitable death, albeit no casualties have been reported at the time of writing thispaper.63 gun-80111
  19. 19. 5. SocialConstructivismApproachWhen it became embarrassingly apparent it wasn’t attainable to radically end the lease agreement of 3D printers orshut down funding, the lanes changed to the notion of hard monitoring, regulating and organizing firearms licenses.Another commenter on the Forbes website said, “What does printing have to do with producing a steel firearm? Anyone with a saw and file (or CNC equip- ment) has been able to do it for centuries.” - Callme Ishmael64Mr. Guslick has also been testing the “Market Place” for 3D printing firearms. He requested permission fromThingsVerse to post a 3D weapons design on the 3D designs sharing website Makerbot Industries.65 Mr. Guslickstated that the senior leadership decided not to disallow but to discourage the postings of weapons designs.6664 despite-being-booted-off-indiegogo/65 ibid
  20. 20. Subsequently, Mr.Guslick posted the design and it ended up with an intensive legal discussion.Consequently, ThingsVerse decided to ban weapon designs outright.67 However it is unclear whether they are enforc-ing a ban or not since the designs are clearly visible on the site.However, gun controlling or 3D printers for that matter, has taken a whole new route with the patriotic American gunlovers. Some hold up high the Second Amendment of the US constitution. One comment on the Defense Distributedfundraising page states: “ Freedom is never free. It has been paid for by the ultimate sacrifice of great military menand women who have given their lives to defend our right of gun ownership for self protection.”68Other comments largely focus on the freedom of gun ownership and personal security. “People being able to produce useful weaponry in their own homes is bound to lead to a freer society, as it overturns the supply-restriction behind the current firearm laws.” 69Another states, “Legal firearm ownership is associated with reduced murder rates. Our murder rate has spiraled asfirearm and other weapon restrictions have increased. The US states with the most guns have the fewest murders.The European states with the most guns have the fewest murders. Guess what? - Being able to effectively protectyourself reduces the murder rate.” 70This creed reluctantly throws itself at the other side of the ambit with respect to social constructivism. However, in thisparticular instance, gun control as opposed to the technological deterministic viewpoint of banning or abrupt endingof a 3D printer lease, gave rise to patriotic American citizen’s right to bear firearms as stated in the US constitution.Nonetheless, this theory largely focuses and constructively suggests social choice determines the establishment ofcertain technologies. “Social shaping of technologies approach fails to take in to account of the appropriation of technology by users” - MacKay and Gillespie (1992)67 ibid
  21. 21. 6. ConclusionThere are a lot of human factors involved in the 3D printable gun. Each with their own behavior and opinions. Themain human factors are the people behind Defense Distributed. They try to share their ideas with as many people aspossible, using for example social media sites. Different groups of people are interested in this project for differentreasons: either they are interesting in 3D printing and the possibilities, they are amateur gunsmiths and are interestedin innovative ways to make guns, they are interested in cheaper guns or they are interested in the esthetics behindthis idea.A lot of non-human factors are involved in this project too. One of them is of course the 3D printer. Without the devel-opment of this printer, nothing of this would have been possible. Online media is also a big part of this project. De-fense Distributed communicates with people through their own website, their Twitter and Facebook and through theuse of YouTube videos.The 3D printer is a powerful tool enabling us to rapid prototype various objects, in this case a fully functioning hand-held gun. The public’s perspective changes from technological deterministic viewpoint to a social constructivist view-point when harm or inevitable death is shed upon. Downloading a lethal weapon design invariably asks the legitimacyof one’s security and safety in a technologically thriving age.Ultimately, Guslick said he hopes his 3-D printed creation does not take away from the many possibilities that 3-Dprinting has for our future.71 “3-D printing will change our perception of mass production, with products being made more economi- cally, not to mention locally. Similarly, 3-D printing will expand to help redefine ergonomics as more of the items we use everyday will not just be designed for ‘humans’ but for ‘individuals.” 72 - Michael Guslick71 ibid
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