3D printers can produce prosthetics, but also firearms. Sooner or later it had to happen, and it has: a group of young Texans designed Liberator, a plastic pistol able to shoot bullets 7.62 millimetre bullets. Despite the fact they have a licence to make arms, the American State Department intervened by blocking the CAD files distributed online. Anyone could have downloaded them – in any part of the world – and built themselves a working weapon.
To tell the truth, the only problem with printing Liberator was posed by the fact that the gun was printed by an industrial 3D printer costing around $8000 (a Stratasys Dimension SST). Lovers of weapons and 3D printers have been busy and have overcome this obstacle, by putting into circulation a new model: Lulz Liberator. As Forbesexplains, an engineer from Wisconsin designed a new $25 model printed with a $1800 dollar machine, a model which is within the reach of almost everyone.
Joe – as the engineer is called – has gone further and published a video in which he puts the Lulz Liberator to the test: you see a gun printed in 3D which fires at least nine shots before exploding. For a gun-lover this is a success. But not everyone thinks exactly the same. As if that wasn’t enough, to the phenomenon of plastic guns is added that of 3D printed bullets. But, according to Wired.it, the DIY ammo could also be dangerous for those holding the weapon.
Within a short space of time, 3D printed weapons have also attracted the attention of the security forces. The police in Sydney, for example, downloaded and printed a Liberator in 3D to discover if it was a risk to national security or not. According to their shooting tests, the weapon could cause fatal injuries to humans. In general, the plastic gun cannot be detected by metal detectors.
Meanwhile, the concern surrounding the Liberator has spread to the United States: Fox News released the content of an intelligence report according to which the gun could endanger public safety. And, as happens with all viral files, it seems impossible to block all Liberator design downloads.