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
Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags governmentlegalhardware 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

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?