A Bad Week for 3D Gun Printing

We reported earlier this week on the ending, possibly for good, of the US law prohibiting the printing of plastic or otherwise undetectable guns.  Although many were hopeful this was not to be.  By an overwhelming majority the Undetectable Firearms Act was renewed for another 10 years earlier this week putting a nail in the 3D printed firearms coffin, sort of.

The law requires a minimum amount of x-ray detectable metal parts in any firearm produced inside the country.  This leaves door open for 3D printed guns that contain at least 3.7 ounces of metal parts. The law also does not stipulate these metal parts have to non-removable, a significant loophole in a law written to increase security. While this means the gun will not be entirely 3D printed it does give some enthusiast a little hope.

The Liberator 3D gun

The Liberator 3D gun

After passing the law Representative Steve Israel, who is pushing a separate bill requiring the metal parts to be non-removable, released a statement saying “I am pleased that the House passed a 10-year re-authorization of the Undetectable Firearms Act, because I believe it is an essential first step in keeping Americans safe from the threat of plastic guns.”

It was not just America that made 3D printed firearms harder this week.  Across the pond the British government also updated its rules on 3D printing guns, and their new regulations are a lot more specific.  They outlawed the printing of unlicensed 3D firearms and added a 10 year prison sentence to anyone who breaks this law.  They also extended this to include individual parts of a gun as well as the firearm as a whole.

While this does leave the door open for licensed 3D firearm production, it must be remembered that England does not license any firearms for the public.  So the allowing for licensed printing really only pertains to manufacturing of weapons for the military or some specialized law enforcement agencies.

  • Michael Armani

    I’m sure many would agree that it is a good thing to have the option to detect a functional plastic gun where we all want and expect to have security. Why hasn’t anyone considered adding ferrous metals to bullet casings, since 3D printing is increasingly disseminated and affordable…

    On a related note, M3D developed the first working iron-filled filament compatible with 1.75mm 3D printer systems (that I am aware of). It was revealed at MakerFaire NYC ’13 and covered by Inhabitat. It has enough iron in it to attract a magnet strongly, so presumable it would not pass through a metal detector unnoticed.


    • http://cmro.travis-starnes.com/ Travis

      So far the main conversation is about the printed weapon and not the ammunition. I am not sure anyone has made working, 3D printed ammunition that can withstand the pressure of firing.

  • http://www.lewrockwell.com/ Tuci78

    “While this does leave the door open for licensed 3D firearm production….”

    Who cares? As this technology continues to advance, the concept of getting government permission to create firearms goes bye-bye. This is toothpaste that the politicians, the bureaucrats, and the leftard hoplophobes can never get back into the tube, and that’s a very good thing for society in general and the individual human being in particular.


    “Fine Weapons. The right to buy weapons is the right to be free.”

    — A.E. van Vogt, The Weapons Shops of Isher (1951)