by General Fabb
This topic just won't go away. Last week 3D printer manufacturer Stratasys revoked the 3D printer lease of Defense Distributed, a team intent on producing an open source, 3D-printable gun design - using a Stratasys 3D printer.
No doubt Stratasys was concerned they might be sued by someone in the future or the subject of criminal investigations, so they took a conservative step and eliminated the problem.
Wait, you say, the team can still produce a 3D printable gun design using another 3D printer!
That's correct. But that wasn't the problem in this situation. It was Stratasys avoiding legal troubles. And they've successfully avoided that potential issue. Someone else might get sued or arrested, but it won't be Stratasys.
It turns out that Stratasys already supplies 3D printing equipment and services to existing gun manufacturers, so what's the difference? The gun manufacturers likely have to comply with regulations, such as including serial numbers on the weapons. An open source project would not be under such restrictions and perhaps that's why Stratasys took action.
We think a 3D printable gun design is an inevitable development, given that in the US it is apparently legal to manufacture your own weapon anyway (you just can't sell them.) Gunsmiths make them all the time using conventional tools and 3D printing is simply another tool.
What we're wondering is, why didn't Defense Distributed BUY the 3D printer instead of LEASING it? Ok, they probably didn't have the money, but if they had the cash, this situation could have been avoided.