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.
Handcuff keys are generally universal for a manufacturer, at least within a given police department, so that any officer can unlock any set of cuffs. The fact that someone can quickly and easily (and cheaply) print off working plastic versions is a serious problem. Criminals have long made handcuff keys in metal shops, but it's a lot more difficult. You essentially have to have access to an original key.
With 3-D printing you simply need a CAD file, which can be easily acquired on the Web. In fact, the consultant (reportedly known only as "Ray") plans to upload said CAD files to the 3-D printing forum Thingiverse later this week--ostensibly to make security companies aware of these kinds of security holes.
Just a reminder that there's a morally ambiguous side to every disruptive technology. Just as the Internet made information free and opened up the world to a whole new kind of economics and commerce, so it opened up the world to cybercriminals and black hat hackers. We've already seen 3-D printed brass knuckles and rifle components. There's no telling what we'll see next, but we'll take the bad with the good. The upside inherent in 3-D printing technology far outweighs these kinds of negative implications.
3-D printing is simply a tool, as in other tools or even books with knowledge for that matter. Making unavailable of tools does not remove the desire of humans to cause harm.
To outlaw 3-D printing, we might as well outlaw the steel machine typewriter, because the writer might pick up the machine and bash the head of the reader, sitting next to him.
3-D printing is fine and the same as any other tool, in my opinion. Just educate the human not to be violent or harmful to his neighbor.
Thank you robot, and this would be my first time addressing you directly. Education solves all problems. It is in human nature to cause trouble, and there's little we can do to stop it.
3D printing is something that simply needs to be controlled. What's to stop a cheap 3D printer from blasting out the parts to an AK-47 in some kids basement? Or how about to an RPG-7? All we need to do is control the sale of the printers themselves, make people have a license to own one, so forth. Simple, clean, done.
You do realize that you can just buy handcuff keys, right? A handcuff key is a lot cheaper than a 3D printer.
Ok so it does have an upside to printing hand cuff keys...I lost a pair of them in a bedroom once and had to leave her on the bed and drive to her place to get the spare. That aside, I wonder how long it will be (if it hasn't already happened) where someone prints out an entire gun. I wonder if shell casings would work well crafted this way.
I'd like to print me a new wife. The old one has some flaws.
Solution, don't allow 3D printers in prisons. Problem solved. And for those "what if they have them when we cuff them?" Maybe if the officers did their pat downs correctly the subject wouldn't have said key.
Now to go bake a cake with a file in it....
Playing Devil's Advocate since 1978
"The only constant in the universe is change"
-Heraclitus of Ephesus 535 BC - 475 BC
The is ridiculous
Handcuff keys are not specially made, nor are they intended to be. (the same universal key is used on all handcuffs, even on ones you buy in a magic shop.) Handcuffs are intended for temporary restraint. (e.g. they also use zip ties when they run out of handcuffs). It's not like anyone would even have a need to print one of these when you could walk into a store and buy one for less than a dollar.
@CodeZero + @David Hebert
"What's to stop a cheap 3D printer from blasting out the parts to an AK-47 in some kids basement? Or how about to an RPG-7?"
A functioning AK-47 requires metal components and ammunition. Not something you can make out of plastic.
As for a RPG-7. A launcher without the grenade is useless. And how is a kid going to get their hands on a rocket propelled grenade? If a printer ever comes into existence that can print a rocket propelled grenade complete with warhead and propellant, I seriously doubt it is something that anyone will have sitting idle in their basement.
I wonder in the new Batman movie, if he has a 3-D printer on his bat-belt? Hmmm?!
Need an original key? These aren't made by a black smith. The same CAD model could yield a simple engineering drawing with maybe the 4 critical dimensions to make a metal, plastic, or any other type of key.
Yeah. The idea that people will be able to print working guns is just silly. Even if you could make one from plastic and used real metal bullets, it would blow up, melt, or both with the first shot.
Of course you could look to the future and worry that maybe people will be able to print various types of metal with the necessary qualities to make a gun. But that doesn't really change anything. People already have machine shops now and the capability already exists for people to make their own guns.
Yes, some day it will likely be possible to construct with a 3D printer many working components of firearms once metal sintering technology becomes cheaper and more readily available. Some parts this will likely not be the case, but the point is moot (and more than that, asinine).
Fabrication technology has been available to the individual for many decades now. I can go on craigslist and get a used Bridgeport and a lathe for a few grand which will be enough for any competent machinist with detailed CAD or paper designs to fabricate a fire arm.
Many middle class Americans have access to this type of equipment currently. For instance, POPSCI recently did an article on Hackerspaces, shops where you can subscribe to memberships and gain access to very advanced fabrication equipment for very low cost. Some even have 6 axis CNC machines available to you for subscriptions of less than $100 for a months access.
A well equipped hackerspace would be all one needs to (crudely) manufacture a modern assault rifle, the designs for which are available online right now. Models for nearly all components of the civilian version of the M-16 - the AR-15 - can be fund online as public domain.
**Also want to point out that it would be completely legal to do so (in America) provided I am note manufacturing it for sale, but for private use.**
If your solution to any technology that could possibly enable a criminal activity is to CONTROL it's sale and ownership, we will be licensing and asking permission from our government to own anything from a knife, to a jigsaw, to a drill press. Senseless and reckless oversight.
Completely ridiculous stretch of the implications of 3D printing. I already have a universal handcuff key I keep in my wallet that I bought for less than 4 bucks. They're available everywhere (a quick Amazon search turns up dozens), and not even controlled.
As for weapons... they can hardly be called brass knuckles if they're made out of plastic. I suppose you could make a lower receiver for an AR with a 3D printer, but that's one of our rights, anyway.
@iambronco, I agree with many of your points, except the last, but I'll come back to that.
I know that the info for how to make an AK is on the internet, and the parts to make such would be relatively cheap. That is the exact problem. For example, say a drug cartel gets their hands on said competent machinist, and orders him to start engineering these weapons. Say the cartel leader owns a junkyard. Easy access to resources, with a little trouble on their part. Scraped cars don't make good metal, but what do drug lords care?
Now on the last bit, it wasn't reckless oversight, it was common sense. You have a license to drive, correct? Doctors have a license to practice, right? So why not have a license to be able to own a 3D printer? It isn't a socialist dogma, but a reasonable recommendation. I dont say ban it, just control it.
@kfreels, what if you had a really high tech one that worked with metal? Think about that.
@democedes, I could make a functional bazooka out of parts I could find in a junkyard, a fireworks store, and out of a Bass Pro Shop I (true story, got grounded for a month, thankfully didn't destroy anything important). If you know what you are doing, propellant is easy. So is a warhead, if you know what you are doing. And see @kfreels response for the AK part.
If you can McGyver the critical componets of a RPG-7 or a AK-47 (Gun barrels, bolts and rocket propelled grenades), then you don't really need a 3D printer. You already have the technical competence to fabricate the non critical bits (most of which you can legally purchase on the internet anyway). So what new capability does a 3D printer provide in this scenario that is cause for concern?
"You have a license to drive, correct? Doctors have a license to practice, right?"
The purpose of a license to drive/practice medicine is to certify competence, not to prevent intentional misuse. The odds of me being caught driving drunk are the same with or without a drivers license.
Also, you don't need a license to legally buy a car. And you can legally drive it on your property without a license.
Most importantly, in a free country you don't have to ask permission from the government to exercise your fundamental rights.
I'll let you have that one, democedes. But if the printers were fast enough, it would be a big problem.
Also, tried to create a car engine based minigun. Took me eight weeks, four of my buddies, ten engines (junkyard), but we made it work.
The little bazooka would have been more accurate if I'd have thrown the rocket.
but thank you for the complement