It doesn't take a lot to make a zip gun, people did it for years before real guns got so accessible and affordable. Here's a neat one made out of a staple gun, talk about creative repurposing. The basic principle is simple: figure out how to hold a bullet in place and drive a nail into the back of it.
Cody Wilson, a 25 year old law student in Texas, figured out a better way to not blow your hands off; he designed one that could be printed out on a Stratasys Dimension 3D printer out of ABS plastic. Rebecca Morelle writes for the BBC:
Mr Wilson, who describes himself as a crypto-anarchist, said his plans to make the design available were "about liberty". He told the BBC: "There is a demand of guns - there just is. There are states all over the world that say you can't own firearms - and that's not true anymore. "I'm seeing a world where technology says you can pretty much be able to have whatever you want. It's not up to the political players any more."
That's right, it's a public service. He goes on in Forbes magazine:
This is about enabling individuals to create their own sovereign space…The government will increasingly be on the sidelines, saying ‘hey, wait,’” says Wilson. “It’s about creating the new order in the crumbling shell of the old order.
The downloadable plans for the gun include a six ounce chunk of steel, designed to make the gun detectable by metal detectors and required by law. I wonder how many people will bother putting that into the gun.
Compared to many 3D printed objects, this thing is pretty crude. There is also a reason guns are made out of metal and not ABS plastic; It isn't very safe, and eventually exploded, although not in Wilson's hands. But hey, freedom is more important than safety; according to Forbes,
Wilson doesn’t deny that his gun could be used for murder or political violence. “I recognize that this tool might be used to harm people. That’s what it is: It’s a gun,” he says. “But I don’t think that’s a reason to not put it out there. I think that liberty in the end is a better interest.”
3D printing has a real role to play in the future of manufacturing, but this isn't it.