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Design News, January 2013

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the 3D-printed weapons systems and provide open-source software to anyone who wants it. Defense Distributed began its quest with the Wiki Weapon Project, which aims to provide all the necessary CAD software for manufacturing plastic firearms using any 3D printer. The group expanded on Have Blue's AR-15 to prove the concept of building weapons with a printer. However, instead of testing Have Blue's .22 conversion build, the group went ahead with an AR-15 conversion in 5.7x28FN, which has more firepower than a .22 but provides less pressure than the standard .223 round. The group printed the lower receiver using Objet ABSlike filament piped through a Connex 3D printer. The printed rifle fired six shots before breaking. Apparently, the receiver's threads couldn't handle the pressure and snapped at the buffer-tube connection. The group is now looking for funding and a federal firearms license to get its project off the ground. The problems with 3D-printed firearms aren't limited to catastrophic failure. (It takes only one bullet to kill.) There is also the issue of legality. No federal laws address manufacturing weapons with 3D printers, so anyone owning a printer could make a weapon — even if they're not allowed to own one. The ATF considers the rifle's lower receiver as the firearm; anyone can purchase the upper receiver, barrel, etc. The 1988 Undetectable Firearms Act prohibits the manufacturing or possession of guns that can't be picked up by airport metal detectors. This creates a loophole for hobbyists. Firearms typically require metal parts (barrel, springs, bolt, etc.) to function, and those parts can be detected. However, some companies don't want to take any chances. Defense Distributed's first attempt at funding in September through Indiegogo ended in disaster; Indiegogo froze DD's account and sent the $20,000 it raised back to the backers. In October, Stratasys terminated the group's 3D printer lease and seized the equipment from a member's home. Like it or not, the seed of printing weapons has been planted, and the idea is sure to gain momentum through hobbyists in the near future — until federal laws are enacted to gain control over the issue. It's only a matter of time before a printed weapon is used in a crime. Then all hell will break loose. — Cabe Atwell, Contributing Editor, Design Hardware & Software For More Information: CNC Gunsmithing: www.cncguns.com "Have Blue": http://haveblue.org positioned ahead... moving beyond RoLin™—embedded component-level position sensor Non-contact magnetic radial, axial and linear encoders designed for miniature motion control applications. ■ ■ ■ Absolute within 2 or 5 mm Incremental output position Resolutions to 0.244 µm or 13 bits ■ ■ ■ High speed operation Bi-directional reference mark Axial or radial rings Advanced motion sensors for the smallest applications...and smaller. See us at ATX '13 BOOTH #4348 Renishaw Inc. Hoffman Estates, IL www.renishaw.com/encoders Designed and manufactured by Renishaw's associate company RLS d.o.o.

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