Tag Archives: Wired

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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Makerbot Gets Cloned…Again

Well that escalated quickly.

Open source hardware hasn’t really been a thing for very long, so it doesn’t have many success stories. Arduino is probably the only obvious one. Makerbot is quickly becoming the second. How can you tell when an idea is successful? Easy, it gets copied.

Matt Strong figured out how to source the parts for a Makerbot Replicator from China and joined Kickstarter with a proposal: if he could gather $500,000 he would offer his TangiBot (a clone of the Replicator) for 30% less. How that turned out and what it means…after the jump.

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FreedomBox is Vaporware. Maybe. Maybe Not.

Wired’s Threat Level reported on the threat that Eben Moglen’s FreedomBox will never actually exist in any meaningful way.

They got $85K in funding from a Kickstarter campaign and set up an organization to develop the concept, but it’s been like a year since then and, you know, it’s not like they haven’t done anything…but there’s nothing they can really show to the community as a milestone.

From the Wired post, “In an e-mail, Daly told Threat Level that setting the end of the year as the goal for the initial beta-release is intentionally ambitious. He hopes that “people will see the fact that we probably won’t make it without additional developers as an excuse to join the project.”…“FreedomBox is not going to be saved by the enthusiasm of those who care about freedom,” he said, while pacing in his office at the Software Freedom Law Center in Manhattan. “It’s going to be saved from that fate because that software stack is going to be useful to all kinds of people for all kinds of purposes.”

That seems like a reasonably solid argument. Open source projects are particularly successful when they are flexible tools. The sort of person who can develop a technology is the same sort of person who wants more and better tools for developing technology. The best people tend to focus on projects that are useful in a general sense. However, I suspect that the FreedomBox idea might be fundamentally flawed.

More… Continue reading

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Facebook and the Open Compute Project

Well, Facebook can’t be entirely evil…right?

Their Open Compute Project, started in April 2011 and still going strong with the release of Open Rack, is pursuing maximum efficiency. They have chosen to open source the entire design so that the industry can start to benefit from working together to solve the most fundamental challenges inherent in data centers. Basically, this boils down to turning electricity into cyber services with the least possible energy and hardware. Check out their specs here.

“Sharing software has existed for many, many years, but it hasn’t taken foothold in the hardware space or in the data center world…yet.” – Jonathan Heiliger, Facebook VP Technical Operations

“On the other side of the equation, we’ve started to see a convergence of voices among the consumers of this technology around where we think the industry would benefit from standardization and where we think the opportunities for innovation are.” – Frank Frankovsky, Facebook Open Compute Project President.

Here are some industry responses, collected by DatacenterDynamics:

“I think, overall, I like the idea of sharing their design data. I think there’s some good learnings there…but I think who can use it varies.” – John Kuzman, Intel Senior Data Center Architect

“Having a bigger set of eyes looking at their designs is only going to make the project better.” – Ian McClarty, Phoenix NAP President

“I’d like to congratulate Facebook for being open about their compute platform…They’re helping the industry.” – Al Edwards, Nokia, Americas Data Center Manager

“There are two things: cyber-things and physical-things…The management schemes were not released and it would be nice to know something about how their data center is managed.”  - Sandeep Gupta, Arizona State University, Professor of Computer Science and Engineering

“If they open sourced that to the rest of the world, I think that would be a great benefit.” – Guy Tal, Limelight Networks, Director of Strategic Relations

The real core of open source hardware is, as Facebook puts it, hardware API‘s. The universal principle of an API is that it ensures compatibility across multiple vendors and a long periods of time. Interchangeable fasteners are a hardware API. The USB plug is a hardware API. Automobile wheel lugs are a hardware API. Since hardware is more expensive than software, it takes longer and costs more to establish standards, but those standards also produce more benefits when they are finally adopted.

Since Facebook’s Open Compute Project is redesigning all the hardware API’s in the data center from scratch, they can optimize the system of systems, ensuring on over-optimized sub-system doesn’t interfere with the overall performance of the data center. How much of their work gets adopted by the industry remains to be seen.

Additional Resources

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