Make This, Not That: Brewing Controversy over 3D Printing

Make This, Not That: Brewing Controversy over 3D Printing

WRONG ON SO MANY LEVELS: Back in July, ExtremeTech reported on the world's first 3D-printed gun. The maker reportedly was able to fire 200 rounds without any failure from the plastic parts. 

It's no comfort to know that the upper receiver (chamber) of the custom weapon was a stock metal piece from a different gun model -- as far as we know, there are no fully 3D-printed weapons. The real controversy is around the lower receiver which is all plastic. According to ExtremeTech, "the receiver is the actual legally-controlled part." This means anyone with a 3D printer "could print their own lower receiver and build a complete, off-the-books gun."

Let's be clear: guns don't belong anywhere near kids or schools. It breaks our hearts to think of turning the joys of making into a destructive venture. We feel compelled to write about this, nonetheless, because it does point up the need for responsible learning: Just as a great writer can influence millions for better or worse, or a scientist can create nuclear fusion for energy or destruction, a young maker has a choice of how to literally build the world.

Editor's note: This is an edited version of a previous piece which was poorly worded. Mea culpa.

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