UK police seizure poses question: 3D printed gun components, or printer parts?

The parts can be used to enhance the printer's functionality, commenters said
  • (IDG News Service)
  • — 25 October, 2013 15:25
The seized 3D printer and what the Greater Manchester Police identified as "the clip and the trigger" of a 3D printed gun.

The seized 3D printer and what the Greater Manchester Police identified as "the clip and the trigger" of a 3D printed gun.

The Greater Manchester Police have seized components for what they say could be the U.K.'s first-ever confiscated 3D printed gun, though others point out that the parts look like bits that a hobbyist would print out to modify a printer.

The police showed the confiscated 3D printer and "the clip and the trigger" of the supposedly 3D printed gun on its website and on its Facebook page on Friday. But shortly after the message was posted, commenters pointed out that the supposed clip and trigger looked like parts to upgrade the MakerBot Replicator 2 3D printer.

Comparing the seized parts with components on Thingiverse, MakerBot's design community website, it appears that the police could have actually seized a filament and spool as well as a part of a spring-loaded Replicator 2 drive block.

The Greater Manchester Police updated its Facebook page a few hours after its original announcement with a second statement concerning the issue. "We need to be absolutely clear that at that this stage, we cannot categorically say we have recovered the component parts for a 3D gun," read the statement attributed to Chief Constable Steve Heywood.

"What we have seized are items that need further forensic testing by national ballistics experts to establish whether they can be used in the construction of a genuine, viable firearm. We will also be conducting a thorough analysis of computers we have recovered to establish any evidence of a blueprint on how to construct such a weapon," Heywood said.

Printed firearms do exist. The first operational 3D-printed gun was fired at an undisclosed private shooting range outside of Austin, Texas in May. This was followed by the firing of a 3D-printed rifle in August.

"The worrying thing is for me is that these printers can be used to make certain components of guns, while others can be legitimately ordered over the Internet without arousing suspicion. When put together, this could allow a person to construct a firearm in their own home," Heywood said. The Manchester police's announcement they had discovered components that could be part of such a gun has opened up a wider debate about the emerging threat these next generation of weapons might pose, he added. 

Loek is Amsterdam Correspondent and covers online privacy, intellectual property, open-source and online payment issues for the IDG News Service. Follow him on Twitter at @loekessers or email tips and comments to loek_essers@idg.com

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Loek Essers

IDG News Service
Topics: consumer electronics, MakerBot
Comments are now closed.

Latest News Articles

Most Popular Articles

Follow Us

GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell

LIFEBOOK UH574

The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi

STYLISTIC Q702

The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott

STYLISTIC Q702

My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Resources

Best Deals on GoodGearGuide

Compare & Save

Deals powered by WhistleOut
WhistleOut

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?