At SXSW, 3D-printed guns get their turn in the spotlight, too

Defense Distributed's Cody Wilson stands by his group's efforts despite opposition

3D printing's capabilities in art, sculpture and toys have generated considerable buzz at South by Southwest Interactive over the past few days. But one Austin, Texas-based group has a more controversial application in mind: guns.

"When I read some of the coverage of this event, it's like, 'Look at the amazing things we've done with 3D printing,'" said Cody Wilson [cq], CEO of the pro-gun nonprofit Defense Distributed.

"But people don't know what to do with it. It's all cupcakes and lawn gnomes," he said Monday afternoon during a speech at the tech show.

Defense Distributed manufactures gun parts using 3D printers and posts the blueprints online for anyone to download. Its latest accomplishment is a printable magazine for an AK-47 assault rifle. Defense Distributed envisions a future in which anyone would have easy access to the technology to print gun parts themselves, though Wilson didn't say whether those plans include completely assembled guns.

The group's hope is that the technology will eventually become so advanced and widespread that it will render gun control laws meaningless. "People are going to be able to pass this contraband between one another to the point that 'contraband' won't be a meaningful way of describing it anymore," Wilson said.

The DIY gunsmith group has faced numerous setbacks since its founding last year, which now include possible legislation to shut them down, but those behind the effort remain undeterred, Wilson said.

"I'm not stopping," he told a large audience of SXSW attendees.

So far, Defense Distributed printed gun parts have been fabricated in plastic, Wilson said. The AK-47 magazine tested by the group was able to withstand 60 rounds before the unit began to crack, he said.

Defense Distributed, which maintains a repository of blueprint files at Defcad.org, has seen 50,000 downloads over the last two weeks and 400,000 downloads since the end of December, Wilson said.

3D printing more generally has been a big hit at SXSW this year. During the opening keynote of the show, MakerBot CEO Bre Pettis introduced a prototype of his company's MakerBot Digitizer. That product is designed to let users scan 3D objects about 8 inches around and 8 inches high so they can be replicated.

Zach Miners covers social networking, search and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow Zach on Twitter at @zachminers. Zach's e-mail address is zach_miners@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags legalhardware systemsconsumer electronicsSXSWDefense DistributedMakerBot

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

Zach Miners

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?