Some months ago I was posting a social media comment about 3D printing. To paraphrase I said something along the lines of ‘watch this technology it’s going to make an enormous difference to how we view value and utility’.
Now that wasn’t the most prescient comment in the whole world (it was a little bit though), it was after reading about how the technology would making printing your own sneakers, to your own specifications a reality. Of course the technology used to do this currently costs in the region of $100k and the unit looks an IKEA wardrobe. So it’s not exactly on the home shopping list for those of us with at least a nodding acquaintance with Mr Sanity. In any case that’s what Amazon is for, so why reinvent the wheel?
On the other hand, there’s always a lunatic fringe who seem to have missed the memo that says ‘just because you can do something doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a good idea.’
Usually you don’t have to specifically point this out to people, however in a consumer orientated world where peanut packaging has to have a warning label that reads ‘may contain nuts’ there is a little doubt as to just how much thought people are prepared to give to unintended consequences.
So it was without any surprise at all that I read about the gun that was recently printed out on one of these 3D printers.
The reason I was not in the least surprised is that I had not a week previously pointed out to my wife that it was only a matter of time before someone, somewhere did something really stupid with the technology. I think I may have mentioned a bear trap, but the principle’s the same. Except for some very, very important design differences.
You see bear traps hardly ever (except in very specific and highly unusual circumstances) have the ability to blow your head clean off .
The person who designed this ‘gun’ did so for some complicated reasons that have something or other to do with proving some or other point about personal freedom. I’m a bit hazy on the details, as I find that when you get past 40 you stop making an effort to understand plainly unstable people. This is because experience has given you a pretty good idea about the ingredients of the crazy cake. Lunatics can add all the fancy icing and cherries that they want, but when you get right down to it, it’s still made out of lunacy.
Now I have no problem with people expressing their opinions, after all as long as they don’t actually dribble on me or cause any sort of physical harm to the rest of humanity, They should be free to rave and rend their clothes as often as they feel is necessary.
But, here’s the thing. When designing a product that uses the well understood principles of controlled explosion, shouldn’t you at least be aware that plastic is not the most appropriate material to use?
This is a firearm that has so many design flaws that I really think you’d be fairly safe even if someone decided to test it out by attempting to put a hole in you. I’m by no means an expert on the subject but I should think that the person in the most danger would be the one pulling the trigger. I have absolutely no doubt that by firing a single shot (and that’s all you have, a single shot) you would be placing such strain on the materials used in the manufacture of this ill thought out piece of equipment that you would be quickly become known to your fellow inmates as ‘lefty.
3D printing technology has come on in leaps and bounds. You can now buy a home 3D printer for around $1000 and have heaps of fun with the kids designing bangles and miniature versions of the Eiffel Tower. If you’re feeling particularly daring you could have a go at sunken treasure chests or a deep sea diver for the Goldfish tank.
On no account should explosives and home 3D printing ever be combined, it sounds like fun but it’ll end in tears.
By the way I’ve mentioned ‘gun’ in this blog entry a number of times. So if you don’t hear from me soon then I’m probably in a cell. With my luck I’ll be sharing it with someone who has (had?) a hobby designing 3D firearms.