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Posted: 6:00 a.m. Friday, April 5, 2013

Making your own gun through 3-D printing?

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Online collective aims to ‘print’ plastic guns photo
Cody Wilson points to to his laptop screen, where an image of a prototype plastic gun appears. With his other hand, he holds a weapon he calls ‘Individual Mandate.’ Wilson bought a 3-D printer, he planned to print a the prototype but before he was able to, the company that made the printer sent a representative to confiscate it. Still, he’s certain the gun will be printed. ‘This is coming,’ he says, ‘whether it’s me, or somebody else. This your printable future.’

By Clark Howard

The media has been frenzied about 3-D printing technology being used to create guns. They think it's going to lead to chaos. But I think they're focusing too much on fear and overlooking the positive benefits of this new manufacturing technology.

Defense Distributed is just the latest organization to obtain a federal license to make and distribute guns. Like other gun manufacturers, they'll be required to keep records of who they sell to.

But the idea here, that with these 3-D printers, you are your own manufacturer, is an intriguing one. With 3-D printing, you take digital plans off the web, or plans you've created, and use your printer to make an item, creating it layer by layer out of plastic, metal, or other material.

You can make a part for a car, a valve for somebody's heart, or any of a number of customized pieces of varied things.

The focus, as I said, has been on guns in media reports and people making them using 3-D printers. But here's a reality check: With any new technology we always fear the negative and overlook the positive -- although a lot of people would not see manufacturing guns as a negative.

But the thing is with this technology, I think about the possibilities on the plus side of ledger. Say someone needed emergency surgery somewhere in the world and a part was not available. That person could die. But imagine being able to print it up on-site in just minutes!

Wow. That is not a pipe dream. It's going to happen. We are on the cusp of a true revolution that has the potential to provide any of a number of improvements from small to life saving.

If you are anti-gun, you'll focus on the gun angle. But that's just one wrinkle in a big, fantastic look-see into a very positive future!

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