A proposal to stop 3D printers from making guns is a perfect parable of everything wrong with information security


Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/03/22/yellow-dots-cubed.html


The microcontroller in most consumer/hobbiest 3d printers is roughly comparable to a desktop computer of the late 1970s. And they want these to be able to do 3d image matching? That’s laughable.


Realistically it doesn’t stop anyone from fabricating guns with not just 3D printing but any other number of ways.

Also anything is or can be a weapon. Are we meant to live our lives being able to interact with safe government approved objects?


I’m also reminded of another piece of idiotic legislation: In Canada Blow guns are illegal. Which is the very definition of stupid considering a blow gun is literally just a tube.


the C3PO team proposes that 3D printers could come pre-installed with a database of hundreds of thousands of images that they would attempt to match to print-jobs to determine whether they were being asked to make a gun (or any other unlawful object) so they could reject jobs that seemed to match the prohibition list.

This reminds me of the Iraqi project to build a super gun that could shell Israel. They lacked the manufacturing skills to make the barrel, and commissioned a UK company to make some very specific oil pipes. You can see a couple of them at the Royal Armouries’ collection.


Did not know about this, will have to read up on that after work


I was introduced to it while working that the Cosmosphere and Space Center and having my boss run an RPG campaign. We were a clandestine op who knew something weird was going on in Iraq and had to figure out what was going on. It was based on the Super Gun Saddam was trying to build. Though it is likely it wouldn’t have worked, or at least not more than once.

The guy who designed it was a genius, though, and dreamed of launching small satellites into space not by rocket, but by shooting them into orbit. This is actually how Jules Verne did it in From the Earth to the Moon.


I can attest to the fact that some PVC tubing, a fireplace lighter, maybe some hairspray, a sack of potatoes and a little know-how can produce a devastating artillery weapon. Maybe not suitable for killing tanks, but certainly personnel and light vehicles.


Starter fluid spray works better.


Yep. We got into butane, and installing the refillable lighter valves into the PVC by the time my friends and I were done playing with potato guns.

But even with something as dirty and ineffective as hairspray, you can lob a large potato a quarter of a mile. It’s pretty nuts.


There’s something about warfare and people wanting to go to space and using their ideas for weapons instead. I’m reminded of the guy that designed the V2, but i somehow have kind of a vague memory of a gun designer wanting to send people to space… must be this guy you mentioned.

Also did a little bit of digging and i guess some guy named John Hunter is also known for coming up with similar plans.

And found this too :slight_smile:


I bet prop reproduction people would love this too…


I have no problem with gun manufacture (large or craft) to require some sort of license. Hell - you need one to open a craft distillery.


I agree that we should not penalize the legal users of a tool because of the illegal use of some outliers…

Almost all the arguments you just made against the steps being taken on the 3d printing front apply to the steps being taken on the weapons front.


Currently law is similar to beer or booze. You can make them for yourself (as long as they aren’t NFA items), but you can’t sell them. If you sell you become a manufacturer and need a license.


It’s also completely unworkable because most cheap 3D printers work by being fed GCODE which is a low level protocol essentially containing move and draw instructions (move here, squirt plastic until you get there), it’s so low level that files are many megabytes long, you can’t tell it’s a gun part by looking at a little bit of it - to recognise a gun a printer would have to load the entire file into memory, render it into a 3d object and then try and compare it with a DB of images … all on a device that probably has < 64kb of memory


If someone really wanted to bypass having their files checked against a database (if that were even implemented and possible) they can easily buy or make themselves a homebrew 3D printer.


Great - just one more step to go.


Or just design a 3D gun that doesn’t look like a current gun? Something that would not trigger their optical recognition. You could even design it inside another non-threatening model, where you would have to cut or remove extra bits to release the gun components.


There is already a burgeoning community of people making their own guns. And they’re not using 3d printers… Now most of them use parts that still need enough work that they don’t legally count as a gun. Picture the frame of an M-16 that needs some machine work done to it before all the other parts can be bolted to it. But something like a sten gun is very easy to make with some simple machine tools.


It’s not. Most of the 3d guns I have seen are designed in a way that takes into account the materials. So far, the 3D printers don’t allow for reliable, usable firearms. AR lowers made from them will get off some rounds before breaking, because the design puts stress on parts that are OK in aluminum, but not ok with plastic.

Before the frantic hand wringing that 3D printers will lead to the destruction of mankind, slam-bang shot guns made from fucking metal pipes and a nail have been around for forever.

This guy made a fancy stock but you literally can make it with two pipes, a nail, and some wood.