Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Amazing 3D Printing

Additive manufacturing or 3D printing is a process of making three dimensional solid objects from a digital model. 3D printing is achieved using additive processes, where an object is created by laying down successive layers of material. 3D printing is considered distinct from traditional machining techniques (subtractive processes) which mostly rely on the removal of material by drilling, cutting, et cetera.

3D printing is usually performed by a materials printer using digital technology. This type of printer has been with us for quite awhile and because there has been a massive growth in the sales of these machines, their prices have dropped substantially. So now the technology is being commonly used in the fields of jewelry, footwear, industrial design, architecture, engineering and construction (AEC), automotive, aerospace, dental and medical industries, education, geographic information systems, civil engineering, and many others.

3D printing is really amazing! Check out this video clip:

In early May of this year, Cody Wilson, a self-confessed anarchist and most famous digital gunsmith, fired the first entirely 3D-printed handgun, the Liberator, and posted its blueprints online. The idea was to give anyone with an Internet connection, a computer, and a 3D printer the chance to do the same.

Software engineer Travis Lerol took about 48 hours to print the electric blue Liberator. He did it using his consumer-grade, $1,300 3D Systems Cube printer, and a grand total of $30 in materials.

This is his story, and the story of how Wilson's dream of giving anybody "near-instant access to a firearm through the Internet" is now an unstoppable  and frightening reality:

As the world's first downloadable gun starts to be replicated, authorities are scrambling to react to a technological advancement that only a few weeks ago sounded more like science fiction than fact.. But according to a leaked bulletin by the Department of Homeland Security, any effort to stop the printing of these guns might be in vain.

A May 21, 2013 DHS bulletin distributed to several law enforcement agencies across the country, and obtained by Fox News, basically states that there might be nothing that can be done to stop people from downloading and printing plastic guns.

"Limiting access may be impossible," the memo states.

And that’s not all. Now, somebody has designed and printed bullets using the same technology.

In a video posted to YouTube on May 19, 20913, Jeff Heeszel – he goes by taofledermaus on the site - announced that a friend of his sent him several 3D-printed bullets. A shooter then loads one into a Mossberg 590 shotgun and fires at a dartboard. Amazingly, the plastic slug does some serious damage. But then, the same goes for some of the subsequent bullets fired: Silly Putty, bubblegum, frozen Vienna sausages, and others.

Heeszel obtained the plastic buckshot from a fan named Tony Griffy, a 3D-printing enthusiast who made them because he liked the idea of a traditional weapon firing off a plastic bullet instead of a 3D-printed gun shooting a real bullet.

Unlike Wilson, Griffy isn't motivated by ideology. "It's really, honestly, just for fun," he told Wired's Danger Room blog. But is it? 3D weapon printing is a scary proposition!

Yet, on the other hand, 3D printing is really about making anything you want! Now, isn’t that super cool?

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