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Stratasys Ltd. makes 3 D printers, but gun making was never something envisioned for the machines, said Shane Glenn, director of investor relations at the Eden Prairie, Minn. based company.
Wilson was saddened by the Connecticut school attack but said Thursday that protecting the right to bear arms by giving everyone access to guns is more important in the long term than a single horrible crime.
At least one group, Defense Distributed, is claiming to have created downloadable weapon parts that can be built using the increasingly popular new generation of printer that can create 3 D objects with moving parts.
Still, Israel said the Defense Distributed effort was chilling.
University of Texas law student Cody Wilson, 24 year old "Wiki Weapons" project leader for Defense Distributed, says the group last month test fired a semiautomatic AR 15 rifle one Nike Lebron 12 Bhm of the weapon types used in the Connecticut school massacre. Video posted by the group on YouTube indicates the gun was built with some key parts created on a 3 D printer and fired six times before it Nike Lebron Red
Even with gun control pushed to the top of the national political conversation, Wilson is steadfast about reaching his goal of making a fully downloadable gun.
Wilson acknowledged there still are many technical hurdles to creating a complete gun from a 3 D printer and provided no estimate on when the goal might be reached.
At San Francisco's TechShop, which features a 3 D printer for its members, assembling firearms is strictly prohibited and staff is trained on the policy, company spokeswoman Carrie Motamedi said.
"The early adopters of 3 D printing technology seem to be an educated, more liberal group who were against firearms to begin with," he said.
When the Undetectable Firearms Act was last renewed in 2003, "a gun made by a 3 D printer was like a Star Trek episode, but now we know it's real," he said.
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Wilson acknowledged his idea has met resistance from those active in 3 D printing.
He said he discussed with his partners whether they should suspend their effort, and they all decided it was too important to stop.
project might spur regulations that will hurt or curtail their projects, he added.
"Clearly what happened in Connecticut was a tragedy," he told The Associated Press. "Still, by affording the Second Amendment protection, we understand events like these will happen."
of service state the site cannot be used to share content that contributes to the creation of weapons.
Downloadable guns possible
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Right now, most people interested in 3 D printing rent time on one of the machines. There are a number of businesses and co ops in major cities that allow access to the machines for a nominal fee.
No independent observer verified the test. Federal firearms regulators said they are aware of the technology's gun making potential but do not believe an entire weapon has yet been made.
Special Agent Helen Dunkel of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, which helps enforce gun laws, said the agency is familiar with Wilson's project. She didn't offer an opinion but noted there is nothing illegal about making many types of guns at home. Exceptions would be high powered weapons such as machine guns and those not detectable by airport scanners.
He keeps three AR 15 parts one black, one white and another green in his tidy student apartment in Austin, Texas. This weekend, he and his partners plan to print four new lower receivers the segment of the gun that includes the trigger, magazine and grip.
Spokeswoman Jenifer Howard said the focus of the website is "to empower the creative process and make things for good."
Prices of the machines have fallen as the consumer market grows, leading to a surge in interest from people in the so called "maker" scene. Low end 3 D printers can now be purchased online for as little as $1,500. More high end printers needed to make gun parts cost at least $10,000.
Advances in 3 D printing technology are fueling Wilson's goal. The printers were developed for the automobile, aerospace and other industries to create product prototypes from the same hard plastics used in toys such as Legos. Hobbyists mainly use the printers to design Christmas ornaments, toys and gadget accessories.
Rep. Steven Israel, D NY, said the prospect of such guns becoming reality is reason enough for the renewal of the Undetectable Firearms Act, which makes it illegal to build guns that can't be detected by X ray or metallic scanners. That law expires at the end of 2013.
"Wiki Weapons" project leader Cody Wilson points to his laptop screen displaying an image of a prototype plastic gun on the screen, while holding in his other a weapon he calls "Invivdual Mandate," in Austin, Texas. At least one group, called Defense Distributed, is claiming to have created downloadable weapon parts that can be built using the increasingly popular new generation of printer that utilizes plastics and other materials to create 3 D objects with moving parts. No background checks, no questions asked.
"The gun issue is something that the 3 D printing industry will have to address going forward," Glenn said.
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