Category Archives: politics

Defense Distributed Had Their Stratasys 3D Printer Taken Away

Defense Distributed, headed by Cody Wilson, is championing the Wiki Weapon project, the aim of which is to produce files for a 3D printable gun.

Unfortunately for them, when Stratasys found out what they were doing the 3D printer they had leased got repossessed.  Stratasys said that a plastic gun runs afoul of the 1988 Undetectable Firearms Act which bans guns that can pass through a metal detector without setting it off (according to Wired Danger Room). WikiWep posted the letter from Stratasys on their blog…along with a weak attempt to spin the situation. This is also following the attempt to raise money on indiegogo, which was ended by indiegogo after they found out what Wilson was doing.

According to Wired…

Wilson visited the ATF field office in Austin…he added that the ATF believes he’s not broken any laws, and that the agency believes 3-D printed guns fall into a regulatory gray area…

Wilson says he’s consulted with a lawyer, and is considering acquiring a federal firearms manufacturing license, a process that could take at least two months at the earliest. He’s also thought it may be necessary to incorporate Defense Distributed, turning it into a company instead of a decentralized internet collective.

Wilson says. “It’s just disgusting. I hate that that’s the way it is, but that’s apparently the regulatory landscape.”

Wilson says his group is looking at building an electricity-fired 3D-printed test chamber that can be used to test pressure and the interaction between heat given off by bullets with thermoplastic, which could cause the gun to melt. The chamber wouldn’t have a trigger, Wilson says, who also plans to send the schematics to the ATF for approval while waiting for a manufacturing license.

Wired Danger Room also produced an interesting follow up to this story in which they dive into Stratasys’ relationship with existing weapons manufacturers. It turns out the company’s 3D printers are very popular with companies like Remington because, surprise surprise, they use them to rapidly prototype new guns. There is an exception in the Undetectable Firearms Act for plastic guns as long as they are prototypes made by licensed manufacturers.

I’ll wrap this up with the words of 3D Systems Corporations, CEO, Abe Reichental

Keeping 3D printing positive, allowing it to continue to make good requires decisive action – industry wide action.

With that in mind, I call on our capable and responsible industry leaders to join me in making 3D printing good and the community safe. Without taking a position on gun control laws, our responsibility is to be lawful.

We should join together so parents don’t have to worry their child might print something illegally and communities don’t have to worry that someone irresponsible will open fire with a printed weapon and companies don’t have to worry about counterfeiting and piracy.

References and additional links

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The Definitive Makerbot Open vs Closed Source Discussion

I did my best to document all the different points of view that are relevant to the open source hardware world but are spread all over the interwebs.

The original Makerbot founders.

This post got big, fast. Really big. After the jump you can find key quotes from Bre Pettis, Zachary Smith (Hoeken), Adrian Bowyer, Josef Prusa, etc.

Continue reading

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WikiWeapons – To Print A Gun Or Not

3D printing, when it works, is a remarkably easy way to turn a very complicated design file into a physical object.

Open source, when it works, is a great way to innovate on and distribute an idea quickly.

What if that idea was a design for a gun?

The Defense Distributed project seems to be coming to open source 3D printing from a philosophical perspective. They assert that designing a 3D printable personal defensive weapon system is a challenge to numerous entities that they either disagree with or believe don’t go far enough in their beliefs.

More after the jump.

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US Gov Jumps on 3D Printing Bandwagon with National Network for Manufacturing Innovation

Well 3D printing has officially sold out. The Pentagon is going to fund a new program called the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI). It will be 15 institutes which will each serve as a hub for “manufacturing excellence.” It will be managed by the Department of Defense (DoD), Department of Energy (DOE), Department of Commerce’s NIST, the National Science Foundation, and friends.

Wanna read President Obama’s speech on the subject? Of course you don’t, so here are the important bits:

I’m laying out my plans for a new National Network of Manufacturing Innovation –- and these are going to be institutes of manufacturing excellence where some of our most advanced engineering schools and our most innovative manufacturers collaborate on new ideas, new technology, new methods, new processes…To do that, we need Congress to act.  Hmm.  (Laughter and applause.)  It’s true.  (Laughter.)  But that doesn’t mean we have to hold our breath.  We’re not going to wait — we’re going to go ahead on our own.  Later this year, we’re going to choose the winner of a competition for a pilot institute for manufacturing innovation — help them get started…And sparking this network of innovation across the country – it will create jobs and it will keep America in the manufacturing game.  Of course, there’s more we can do to seize this moment of opportunity to create new jobs and manufacturing here in America.

An interesting note from the Request for Information is that, “Each Institute will have a clear focus area that does not overlap with those of the other Institutes. The focus area could be an advanced material, a manufacturing process, an enabling technology, or an industry sector. The federal government does not intend to create or provide a complete list of focus areas for the NNMI. The NNMI solicitation will invite applicants to propose such areas.” The RFI offers additive manufacturing as the first example of a potential focus area.

This whole thing will be overseen by the brand new Advanced Manufacturing National Program Office which will be hosted by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).  The FY13 budget (pdf) “makes available” $1 billion to help the NNMI establish an “ecosystem” of manufacturing activity.

Hopefully this endeavor will manufacture more than just acronyms.

Related Links:

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Open Source Shepard Rocket Test Stand by Mach 30

Mach 30 is a 501c3 non-profit “dedicated to the advancement of humanity into a space-faring civilization…through sustainable leadership, open source hardware, and the use of mature technology.”

They’re starting small, with a test stand for Estes rocket motors. Their budget is fixed at $200, not including “consumables.” Their timeline is 3 months, assuming sufficient volunteer effort. Like this, only closer to the size of a microwave.

25,000 lb thrust LOX/propane motor run on available Horizontal test stand.

Mach 30 has an “open design pledge” rather than a traditional license: “In order to promote open sharing of the design of its hardware projects, Mach 30 will license all material related to hardware projects it creates under open licenses, asking only for attribution in return, without limits on the making, using, or selling of that hardware.” Basically, they seem to be treating the software as a solved problem, taken care of with the existing Apache License 2.0, but open hardware licenses aren’t as well developed, so Mach 30 is simply releasing them into the public domain.

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Michael Wineberg and Public Knowledge Ahead of the Curve

We’ve all read It Will Be Awesome If They Don’t Screw It Up. Right? If you haven’t read it, go ahead and do that now.

Michael Wineberg is the staff attorney at Public Knowledge, an organization that represents the public’s interests in open access to technology and information. He/they recently put on an event intended to bring political representatives, the public, and open source hardware together for an introduction (and maybe group hug if the mood is right). It was called OH/DC and hopefully we’ll see some media come out of it.

Cat Johnson at Shareable has a nice interview with Mr. Wineberg in which he explains Public Knowledge’s strategy of meeting with representatives BEFORE any legislation affecting open hardware is considered.

What Wineberg and Public Knowledge are doing is fantastic. It seems inevitable that open sourcing manufacturing tools (like 3D printing) will start to cause corporations heart burn sooner or later (they are people after all). I for one really hope the community has gotten out ahead of them and demonstrated the benefits of open source before something along the lines of the RIAA emerges and tries to go after people sharing open hardware designs.

Additional Links

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