The Wiki Weapon Project--the attempt by University of Texas law school student Cody Wilson to develop a 3-D printable handgun and distribute its digital design file across the Web--is under fire. Stratasys, the maker of the 3-D printer the project’s backers hoped to use to prototype its designs, has reclaimed the printer they originally sent to Wilson, citing Wilson’s lack of a federal firearms manufacturing license and the company’s right to rescind any lease if it believes its printers will be used for unlawful activity.
We've already seen that it's possible to print parts of a gun--and have it work--using a 3-D printer. The project was highly controversial, but now a group wants to make sure that anyone can print a working gun at home.
3-D printing has yielded items both fascinating and potentially troubling. Now we can add one more to the list of printed achievements: The U.S. Army has had a rapid prototyping wing for some time, and now they've deployed full teams--complete with scientists and 3-D printers--to Afghanistan.
Billionaire Peter Thiel would like to introduce you to the other, other white meat. The investor’s philanthropic Thiel Foundation’s Breakout Labs is offering up a six-figure grant (between $250,00 and $350,000, though representatives wouldn’t say exactly) to a Missouri-based startup called Modern Meadow that is flipping 3-D bio-printing technology originally aimed at the regenerative medicine market into a means to produce 3-D printed meat.
3-D printers can make airplanes and their parts, food and more — why not entire buildings? A professor at the University of Southern California aims to print out whole houses, using layers of concrete and adding plumbing, electrical wiring and other guts as it moves upward.
What you might not expect when you’re expecting: a company that wants to 3-D print a statuette of your unborn child. Japanese engineering outfit Fasotec will gladly take an MRI scan of an expecting mother’s fetus and using its BioTexture modeling software to capture 3-D data related to human tissues convert that scan into a CAD file, then print it up in resin. It’s called the “Shape of Angel” service (what else?), and it will only set you back roughly $1,250.
Get ready. It's now possible to print weapons at home.
An amateur gunsmith, operating under the handle of "HaveBlue" (incidentally, "Have Blue" is the codename that was used for the prototype stealth fighter that became the Lockheed F-117), announced recently in online forums that he had successfully printed a serviceable .22 caliber pistol.
Despite predictions of disaster, the pistol worked. It successfully fired 200 rounds in testing.
At a hacker conference in New York on Friday, a German security consultant demonstrated just how "disruptive" 3-D printing can really be. Using a 3-D printer, the hacker/consultant printed out various plastic copies of handcuff keys for bracelets manufactured by both English and German security firms. Then he used them to easily pop open both sets of cuffs.
The beauty and promise of 3-D printing is really all tied to the end-user experience--if you can think of something, you can have it made specifically the way you want it to suit any specific need. And as NYU grad student Marko Manriquez says, “sometimes you really need a burrito.” Enter Burritobot, which is exactly what it sounds like.
President Obama’s nationwide push for innovation in manufacturing reaches across agencies from the National Science Foundation to the Department of Energy, and now it’s reaching all the way into the Pentagon where $60 million is being set aside for investment in 3-D printing technologies.
Autodesk, one of the premier 3-D printing companies out there right now--they make AutoCAD, the pioneering software--has a new app out for iPad that aims to make 3-D printing easier. Just snap a bunch of pictures of the object you want to reproduce from different angles, and the app, cleverly named 123D Catch, creates a 3-D rendering automatically.
This three-week-old robot created at the MIT Media Lab’s Mediated Matter group is spinning a web. Or maybe it’s more like a cocoon. Whatever you call it, it’s doing so without any help from humans, using tensile materials like string and rope to shroud itself in a woven enclosure of its own creation.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.