Regulated 3D printing: Can it be done?

A federal appeals court ruled Tuesday against Defense Distributed, the Texas organization that promotes 3D-printed guns, in a lawsuit that it brought last year against the State Department.

In a 2-1 decision, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals was not persuaded that Defense Distributed’s right to free speech under the First Amendment outweighs national security concerns, Ars Technica concludes.

Source: Ars Technica


I think it makes perfect sense for any administrative power to restrict the export of potentially dangerous technology, especially when it comes to 3D printed guns that can be easily reproduced and turned into a real weapon. In a few years 3D printing will become an everyday thing, we won’t go to the nearest store to buy some missing items that would be useful, but download a plan, and print it ourselves.

However I think in the age of the dark net, and millions of passwords for sale, acquiring a 3D printer and the right schematics does not fall under the rocket science category for any dedicated individual. There is also the Streisand effect. We simply cannot censor the internet and remove illicit content. Especially when it comes to US citizens and their second amendment.

It will be more interesting to see what response the European law system comes up with to counter the new threat of 3D printed weapons. Gun ownership rules are generally far stricter in Europe than in the US, and if the authorities do not find a way to regulate 3D printing, then criminal activity could increase substantially.