01 June 2013

3D printers and guns

NB: I put this on one of my tumblr blogs but I'm putting it here too because I think this is really important.

When people hear that I own a 3D printer I end up having to answer the same questions over and over again. I went to the US recently and without any exceptions at all it was the first thing people would ask. The media is obsessed with guns and thanks to FOX news and others the only thing anyone seems to know about 3D printing is that it can make weapons.

"Did you know they can print guns with 3D printers?!?"

Honestly, I can’t imagine a more boring conversation to have. Sorry, I just can't.

“but 3D printers can print GUNS!!! GUNS!!!!!!” 

Yup. And knives can kill people and hypodermic needles inject heroin and airplanes bring down buildings and fertilizer can be an explosive. Are we done?

“so, are going to make a gun?

No. Not yet, not now, not ever.

Here's the thing: Like every other tool ever invented we will see 3D printing used by clever people and and not-so-clever people to good AND ill effect. Those aren’t booleans. It’s a spectrum and if you own a 3D printer your actions will place you on it.

Let's all try and change the conversation. Did you know that 3D printers are being used right now to design low-cost, open-source, individualized prosthetics for children? If so my question is "why are we’re talking about anything else?!?"

Does anyone out there want to estimate the liquid volume of awesome we can give back to the world by printing prosthetics that are a perfect fit for only a few dollars? How about the fact that this design is freely available to download, print, improve and re-upload. According to Thingiverse, this hand has been downloaded over 9000 times. They also have a google map showing people willing to print arms for all that need them.

Most importantly they have an Indiegogo campaign to raised $10,000 for helping them to really make a difference.

10-20 years from now we could very well look back and realize that low-cost 3D printing was a pivotal moment in history; the moment that made or ruined us as a species. It could very well change everything and if guns are the limit of the future you can see I feel like you’re doing our collective imagination a disservice.

Filed in: Nerd   Makerbot  

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