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3D-Printed Gun Bought and Displayed By London Art Museum 133

Posted by samzenpus
from the print-and-shoot dept.
Sparrowvsrevolution writes "The world's first 3D-printed gun known as the Liberator has been treated as a technological marvel and a terrorist threat. Now it's officially become a work of art. On Sunday, London's Victoria & Albert museum of art and design announced that it's buying two of the original Liberator printed guns from their creator, the libertarian hacker non-profit known as Defense Distributed, and will display them during its Design Festival. Cody Wilson, Defense Distributed's founder, calls the museum's acquisition of the gun a victory for his group: 'It will now be this curated, permanent cultural provocation.'"
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3D-Printed Gun Bought and Displayed By London Art Museum

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  • by damnal (801923)
    Art is always in the eye of the beholder.
  • Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by O('_')O_Bush (1162487) on Monday September 16, 2013 @09:06AM (#44862329)
    I'm still not sure what makes 3D printed guns any different or more special than a gun produced with CAD plans and a used CNC machine.

    Good 3D printers are not cheaper or more accessible than used CNCs, and the turns produced are far more dangerous than those produced from small blocks of aluminum and steel.

    Granted, producing the guns may be cheaper (AR parts kit, plus homemade receiver, plus upper would probably cost 700$), but the difference in quality and utility is quite vast.
    • by Mr.Zuka (166632)

      I'm still not sure what makes 3D printed guns any different or more special than a gun produced with CAD plans and a used CNC machine.

      It's really a matter of skill. Getting metal to spec, dealing with heating and shrinkage, using a lathe all take skill.
      Loading some plastic and pressing print doesn't.
      Think of it like the script kiddie of gun making.

      • by gl4ss (559668)

        It's really a matter of skill. Getting metal to spec, dealing with heating and shrinkage, using a lathe all take skill.
        Loading some plastic and pressing print doesn't.
        Think of it like the script kiddie of gun making.

        printing the gun on sub 8000$ 3d printer has you dealing with getting it to spec, dealing with heating and shrinkage.. much more than it takes skill to buy a shotgun shell, a spring, a nail, a bit of wood and a pipe and to assemble them. and that gun would be re-usable.

        in fact, I don't think he's serious about home guns. if he was then he would be using pipes and home depot parts where it makes sense and printing some other parts. that way you could build a stern clone for sub 100$. now his gun is a media g

      • I'm still not sure what makes 3D printed guns any different or more special than a gun produced with CAD plans and a used CNC machine.

        It's really a matter of skill. Getting metal to spec, dealing with heating and shrinkage, using a lathe all take skill.
        Loading some plastic and pressing print doesn't.

        After spending an hour or so this past weekend watching people's 3D printer videos online, I think you're underestimating the challenge of successful, usable prints.

        Sure, it's much easier than learning to mill barrels on a machine lathe, but not quite as trivial as you make it out to be.

    • by i.r.id10t (595143)

      And now that the panic is over, you can get one brand new for your $700 price point....

    • by Anonymous Coward

      ....the difference in quality and utility is quite vast.

      When you're a scumbag out to hurt someone, you just need to stick the gun to their face and pull the trigger.

      These aren't snipers or even some infantry guy who needs accuracy and reliability.

      Stick the gun to their head and *BOOM* be done with it.

      This gun has no purpose other than to prove a point and the only use for it is to scare people - "Oh my God! Someone can print a PLASTIC gun in their basement and bring through TSA and take over an airplane!"

      • by bdwebb (985489)
        The design has been out for quite some time and it can OBVIOUSLY be made without the metal plate included to allow it to bypass TSA and get on an airplane. The point is that it STILL hasn't been done by ANYONE in any country on the face of the entire planet and therefore being scared of this as even a possibility is tantamount to being retarded. In my opinion, that isn't very scary at all. There have been no assassinations, no plane shootings, no terror activities...nothing. You are scared of something
    • Try making an AK from raw materials. Now try printing a firearm from raw materials. Tell me which is easier.
      • by CastrTroy (595695)
        This gun is not an AK. Not even close. It's probably the equivalent of a zip gun. Those are quite easy to make, and don't require that you have an expensive printer as a starting point.
      • by RoboRay (735839)
        How about a shovel? [northeastshooters.com]
      • by bdwebb (985489)
        Actually all the patterns for AK receivers are pretty easy to find. After that you need some rudimentary parts (which you can jury-rig easily) and a piece of wood and you can have a working frankenstein AK. One of the primary reasons AKs are so prolific is that they are EXTREMELY durable and EXTREMELY easy to work on.

        A guy I used to know built one about 10 years ago from ~$100 in parts from hardware stores and a steel supply shop...it was ugly as sin and wasn't very accurate but it fired and much more
    • This is just the result of media-pandering as usual. People have been making guns ever since they existed, and the NSA has been spying on us ever since the proliferation of the telephone. It's just that big media loves grassroots-like stories to keep the Y-gen kids interested in everything.

      Stereolithography stimulates the minds of pseudo-intellectuals who dream of one day saving up $1,000 to buy a cheap one, and go on to imagine somehow changing the world with it. Things like this fuel the hype, and ge
    • by PopeRatzo (965947)

      I'm still not sure what makes 3D printed guns any different or more special than a gun produced with CAD plans and a used CNC machine.

      Because "makers" are hip and cool and go to Burning Man. And a guy with CAD plans and a used CNC machine is called a "machinist" and that's not nearly as cool.

      My father was a machinist, a tool-and-die maker for a good part of his life after WWII. But "makers" believe they have invented something new, so making something from a 3D printer that doesn't work is much cooler tha

    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Rude Turnip (49495)

      It's not about the shitty design process. It's about sending a message: democratized defense against all threats, external and internal.

    • by poity (465672)

      It's probably more about culture than about the object itself. I would guess because it was central to the huge media coverage, it has come represents the moment when the public consciousness expanded to the (preexisting) accessibility of homemade firearms. It marked a "holy shit I didn't realize that" moment for the general population.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Not what the point was. The point revolves more aroudn securing other American's freedoms. Watch a few of this guys videos, and listen to his ideologies. Not to shabby. And you may turn down his ideas but one thing is for sure. Gun violence is a problem in the states. Taking the guns away might actually help for a little while, but it is not the problem. I just think its odd that no one wants to address the growing racial, cultural, monetary divide, plus the drug problems. People want the ability to

    • by return 42 (459012)

      I'm still not sure what makes 3D printed guns any different or more special than a gun produced with CAD plans and a used CNC machine.

      Good point. I see two reasons for "the authorities" to be more worried about 3D guns. First is (I would guess) CNC is fairly mature and stable, while 3D printing is undergoing rapid development, becoming cheaper, more versatile, more accessible. Second is that a CNC machine is something of a niche application, not interesting to many people, whereas 3D printing can make a much wider variety of things and is therefore potentially of interest to more people. Thus, 3D printed firearms are potentially accessibl

      • by return 42 (459012)

        Another thought: I would guess that CNC tools tend to be big and heavy and take up a lot of space in the basement of one's house. A 3D printer can fit on a table in a small apartment, and you only need the one printer to print a firearm.

        • FYI you don't need a CNC machine to make a zip gun. You need a vice, a drill press and a chamber reamer for you round.

          You don't need a CNC machine to make an AK clone ether. But you will likely buy the barrel.

    • by brunes69 (86786)

      One major reason - it's made out of low grade plastic. It's thus not going to be picked up my metal detectors.

      • by return 42 (459012)

        Maybe. Remember the ammo is metallic. Also, the nitrates in the powder can be detected by dogs and possibly machines.

        Also, while metal detectors don't detect plastic, T-waves and ultrasound might well.

    • Because the hope of a lot of people is to have a high quality 3D printer in every home some day. If they become standard appliances it's quite a bit different from a CnC machine.

      • Because the hope of a lot of people is to have a high quality 3D printer in every home some day.

        But it is not going to happen. Some people want one, most people don't. Of the people who do want a 3D printer, most I expect are like me, and think it would be cool. BUT I am sure that if I were to buy a 3D printer tomorrow, I would print about 5 things, then lose interest, and then it would sit in the corner for the next 5 years. I would bet good money most people would have the same usage pattern.

        I might r

    • by meerling (1487879)
      Currently it's much easier and cheaper to build a zipgun/saturdaynight special/junkgun with parts from the hardware store and regular shop tools than it is to make 3D printed gun. And that's not even mentioning that the non-printed one will probably be more accurate and durable. What the fuss is really about is idiots panicking and trying to make a scene.
      If someone wants to bring up the supposed skill gap, it's pretty much an illusion. Anyone that has the most basic tool use skills could make a zip gun of o
    • by nurb432 (527695)

      3D printers will come down in price. Cheap CNC has pretty much stabilized.

      3D printers takes zero skill. CNC takes some.

      While not quite there yet for the home printer, commodity 3D materials will improve. Also have you never heard of plastic lowers before? Several companies sell them, so the concept of plastic does not make them unsafe by default. ( try telling Gaston Glock that plastic is unsafe, i'm sure he would disagree.. )

    • erm, how are they dangerous?  serious question here.
  • So he admits it. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by GameboyRMH (1153867) <gameboyrmh@gmail.cCOBOLom minus language> on Monday September 16, 2013 @09:09AM (#44862353) Journal

    'It will now be this curated, permanent cultural provocation.'"

    So he admits that he's a shit-disturbing troll. I liked it better when they stuck to the Internet and didn't fuck things up for us IRL. Things are a lot harder to ignore or fix there.

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      So he admits that he's a shit-disturbing troll.

      Throughout history, artists have been described as "provocative". Many of these provocative works are now considered classics. One purpose of art is indeed to be provocative. Are you trolling, or just massively ignorant? I don't see a third option here

      • The third option is that I don't want legally-required DRM on 3D printers.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          That will most definitely happen, not from fear of weapons, but fear of people making replacement parts, plastic toys and other things that would cut into profit.

        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          The third option is that I don't want legally-required DRM on 3D printers.

          Look, either you support people using 3D printers in totally legal ways or you don't. If you're not prepared to fight for other people's right to make what they want, then be prepared to be prohibited from making what you want eventually. Try the lessons of history, they're important.

          • I'd be fine if he was just 3D printing handguns. I might even want to help him out as a fun experiment. But that's not what he's doing, he's loudly provoking governments into taking action (which he might VERY mistakenly think would be deregulating firearms), stirring up a fight that doesn't need to be fought right now. Do I need to settle on either condoning this provocation or siding with authoritarians? And are you sure he's not working on the side of authoritarianism? He's not fighting for any rights we

            • by drinkypoo (153816)

              You're being ridiculous on multiple levels. You can already mill as much of a firearm from stock using a CNC mill that costs a lot less than one of these fancy 3D printers as you can with these techniques, and it will be a lot more dangerous besides. It would be approximately as easy to prevent one of those from making firearms as it would be to do it with one of these machines. Ultimately, if you have the hardware, you can make your own control equipment. Well, not me, and maybe or maybe not you, but someo

        • by Zimluura (2543412)

          I don't think that DRM on 3D Printers is, in any way, feasible.

          The angle I think may be tried in the future: A massive mesh fingerprint database that has to be checked before a design can be printed. easy solutions: hack the driver to always return "no_match_in_database_ok_to_print" or gut 3D printer's brain and wrire an arduino to use its high precision linear actuators and chassis.

          I really can't see that approach working ever. As long as there are computers with programming languages and DC motors you'l

          • So you're saying that it can't be any worse than the current state of DRM ubiquity on TVs and gaming consoles? Well that's true but I don't think it's good...

            • by Zimluura (2543412)

              I'll attempt to clarify with a little list:
              1) Any DRM will be very easy to defeat, the brains on a 3D printer have opensource implementations.
              2) It will be a worthwhile endeavor to defeat any finger printing DRM, even if you don't plan to make copies of patented or copyrighted works because of massive performance gain.
              3) Craftsmen tend to want open ended tools. DRM on a 3D printer would be (somewhat) analogous to photoshop telling you what you can and can't draw, or a pianno that won't play certain note pr

          • Taking you literally we're in trouble. DC motors are obsolete. Brushless motors and motor controllers.

            • by Zimluura (2543412)

              those can't be powered by direct current?

              • Obviously the (frequency drive/inverter/motor controller) will have a DC bus. Still isn't a DC motor.

                DC motor has a specific meaning.

                • by Zimluura (2543412)

                  are you sure those aren't also called brushless dc motors?
                  this thingy seems to indicate brushed and brushless could both be refered to by the term.
                  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DC_motor [wikipedia.org]

                  in any case, the intention of my message was: as long as we can buy/make motors controllable from a dc power source we should be able to create actuators to run 3d printers, and program them from our not-locked down computers.

      • So he admits that he's a shit-disturbing troll.

        Throughout history, artists have been described as "provocative". Many of these provocative works are now considered classics. One purpose of art is indeed to be provocative. Are you trolling, or just massively ignorant? I don't see a third option here

        Kinda makes a guy wonder what people would have said about Da Vinci if they'd had internet in ancient Venice.

      • by Valdrax (32670)

        Throughout history, artists have been described as "provocative". Many of these provocative works are now considered classics. One purpose of art is indeed to be provocative. Are you trolling, or just massively ignorant? I don't see a third option here

        One could be a member of the large number of people outside of the "high art" community that believes that mere provocation is insufficient to be art.

        The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living? Not art.
        Marcel Duchamp's "readymades?" Not art.
        Work No. 227: the lights going on and off? Not art.

        To us, art requires some kind of talent, skill, or effort that is beyond what the common man can achieve. Sneer as you like at those of us who don't see the above as art for being "ignorant," b

  • by John.Banister (1291556) * on Monday September 16, 2013 @09:12AM (#44862365) Homepage
    3D printed ploughshares!
  • These are 3D printed guns. You cannot just display them, that is just useless, and stupid, and counter to any reason you would like them.

    "3D printed guns, they make good wall hangers."

    If you are interested in these 3D printed guns, then have a live demonstration or something. Show one being make, being fired, etc...

    • Re:Wrong Aproach (Score:5, Insightful)

      by wonkey_monkey (2592601) on Monday September 16, 2013 @09:23AM (#44862453) Homepage

      These are 3D printed guns. You cannot just display them

      Of course you can. By your argument the Smithsonian shouldn't have the Wright Flyer on display and should be telling people to fuck off to the airport if they want to see planes.

      • By your argument the Smithsonian shouldn't have the Wright Flyer on display and should be telling people to fuck off to the airport if they want to see planes.

        Or, at least get some TSA goons at the exhibit to feel up grandma and a few toddlers so we know what we're standing for...

        • You hide weapons on a toddler while going through airport security for the same reason that criminals in Kosovo or wherever hid their shit in hospitals when the bombs started falling. As soon as the "bad guys" realize that the "good guys" have a line they won't cross, the smart ones will stand just over the line and heckle.

          Sigh.

      • No that is completely different, that is a historic piece.
        The whole point of the 3D printed gun is that you can make one in your office.
        This gun is not historic or special, the technique is.

        • No that is completely different, that is a historic piece.

          So is this. It's not in the same league as the Wright Flyer - I'd far rather see that - but I'd still find it interesting to see this particular gun.

          This gun is not historic or special, the technique is.

          And this is the first working gun to be made with this technique.

    • by cgt (1976654)
      That's probably illegal in the UK.
      • by raburton (1281780)

        That's probably illegal in the UK.

        I assume to posses the original legally they'll have to have it deactivated too. Although that depends on if it's actually classed as a firearm in the first place, while it obviously should be I don't know if the law actually sees a 3d printed bit of plastic as a firearm just because it could fire a bullet (after all lots of things could do).

        • So they are actually just displaying a hunk of plastic in the general shape of a gun? Wow, I would totally take time to go see that.

  • Not art (Score:2, Troll)

    by Nidi62 (1525137)
    While I do feel firearms can be works of art, this plastic piece of crap is not art. A Kentucky rifle [blogspot.com] is art(the smooth lines, the metal plates); an antique engraved firearm [aaawt.com] is art(some of those old engravings are amazing); hell, even an AK-47 is in my opinion art, in a mechanical/engineering sense(it's simplicity of use, the beatings they can take and still operate). But a plastic gun that falls apart after a few shots? They might as well include a Nambu type 94 [world.guns.ru] in their exhibit. They can call it "How
    • Re:Not art (Score:5, Insightful)

      by wonkey_monkey (2592601) on Monday September 16, 2013 @09:24AM (#44862463) Homepage
      It's not there to look pretty. It's there because it was the first of its kind. It's in the museum of art and design.
      • by Nidi62 (1525137)

        It's in the museum of art and design.

        And I'm saying it is not worthy of being there. Do they have Gyrojet there? It was the first of it's kind, and it was pretty crappy too. I'd rather them show display the AK-47 a guy made out of a shovel and a barrel blank. THAT takes some real ingenuity and design. This guy was just an attention whore.

        • I think you are missing the point. The point is not that high quality design of the gun – the point is the high quality output of a 3D printer. It is kind of like getting your dog to sing. You don’t listen to the dog for it’s amazing voice, you are amazed that it can do it at all.

          • by Nidi62 (1525137)

            I think you are missing the point. The point is not that high quality design of the gun – the point is the high quality output of a 3D printer. It is kind of like getting your dog to sing. You don’t listen to the dog for it’s amazing voice, you are amazed that it can do it at all.

            To use your example, you wouldn't exhibit your singing dog by playing a recording of the song, you would show the dog actually singing. So if the point is the high quality output of a 3D printer, then display a 3D printer actually making something, rather than just the output of a 3D printer.

            • In reality I think they chose the gun not because it represented the highest level of art of the printer but because it is controversial and thus will draw people.

              To you point, in a more abstract view, I have a bias in museum for more solid, concert things – to anchor things to a point in time. The dog may have a bad day. Or the dog may be dead so all you get is a stuffed dog. So a recording is better. Would it be cool it see a 3D printer chugging away – Yes. But I would think that would be more

              • by Culture20 (968837)
                Don't worry, if they're like any other museum, they'll have a few 3d printers around to print out plastic trinkets for a buck or two. Most will be pre-made, and you can select your model and watch the re-stock item get made (if you're patient enough).
          • by CastrTroy (595695)
            But then perhaps they should be putting the printer on display, possibly in operation. Charge people to print out their own trinkets so the museum can generate some money. I'm sure there's thousands of other things you could print out that would be a much better example of "the high quality output of a 3D printer" than a 3d printed gun. You can't demonstrate the high quality of a printer, by showing a low quality product. It would be like demonstrating a high quality laser printer by displaying a 32x32
        • by xaxa (988988)

          The Imperial War Museum (also in London) has three Gyrojets in its collection: http://www.iwm.org.uk/search/global?query=gyrojet&x=0&y=0 [iwm.org.uk] .

          But they don't seem to be interesting for their artistic design, which is what the V&A collects and exhibits.

    • by oodaloop (1229816)
      Oh, I'm so glad you're here to arbitrate what is and isn't art! All this time, I had to think of art as being subjective and open to interpretation from the observer, but this is so much easier!
      • Manufactured items aren't art. They are the products of design, and may be copies of an artwork. But they are not art.

        Given that this is coming out of a printer, that can continue manufacturing the same item, with differences only being random mechanical errors, I'm going to say that it's not art.

        Given that this is a museum of art and design, this does qualify. But not on the basis of it being art.

        • Out of curiosity, what is your opinion on:
                Andy Warhol and his factory
                Terry Redlin
                Ferraris

          • Out of curiosity, what is your opinion on:
            Andy Warhol and his factory
            Terry Redlin
            Ferraris

            The Mona Lisa is a work of art. The post cards they sell in the Louvre gift shop are reproductions of works of art, but not works of art in themselves. The whole limited edition print thing does not make a reproduction any more of a work of art.

            Warhol's Factory had an output of both artworks and reproductions. Sounds like Terry Redlin too, but I don't know him (maybe I would if I was American.)

            If by Ferraris, you mean the manufactured cars, they are not art works. If you mean an artist by the name Ferrari,

            • Read up on Terry Redlin. Yes, he is a American known for his landscapes. I think he was banal and kitsch but each to their own. He lands right between original art work and postcards.

              He figured out that reproductions could look very good if they were printed on canvas and if some oil paint was daubed over to get it that “oil painted” feel. So he would paint a original and then start cranking out copies. IIRC he “painted” all of his copies – at least a few brush strokes. The res

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 16, 2013 @09:24AM (#44862455)

    Bought a 3d printed gun? The entire point was for it to be printable! If anything, don't display the gun, display a 3D printer in a case continually printing guns, with the finished guns falling into a hopper to be ground down to pellets to be extruded into filament to be fed back into the printer. Now that's art!

    • by EnsilZah (575600)

      I think that would be missing the point as well.
      If anything they should just display a link to a torrent for it.

  • by dryriver (1010635) on Monday September 16, 2013 @09:30AM (#44862509)
    Am I the only one who thinks that these idiots are creating 3D printed guns solely to provoke TPTB into regulating 3D printers? ---- I.e. future 3D printer models you purchase will send any 3D object you print to a remote server, where trained specialists check whether you are - possibly - printing "gun parts" without legal authorization. ------ I think that the crappy 3D guns these people are trying to create give all of 3D printing a bad name. And I'm pretty sure that the big corporations can't wait for 3D printers to be crippled with draconian regulations. Thus one can forget about a future where one doesn't buy a product the conventional way, but rather uses one's home 3D printer to print it out. I hope the 3D guns people stop before they ruin the 3D printed future for the rest of humanity. My 2 Cents...
    • Am I the only one who thinks that these idiots are creating 3D printed guns solely to provoke TPTB into regulating 3D printers?

      Are there regulations on plumbing materials? Hop your ass down to the hardwares store. When all the shit there that can make better weapons faster and cheaper is provoking folks into regulating them, then perhaps I'll consider 3D printer output the same.

      I think you're really missing the damn point here bub. One key thing this shows is not that everything must be regulated or it'll be turned into weapons, but that the 2nd amendment should be "The Right to Bear Technology", because that's what arms are.

      • by Nidi62 (1525137)

        I think you're really missing the damn point here bub. One key thing this shows is not that everything must be regulated or it'll be turned into weapons, but that the 2nd amendment should be "The Right to Bear Technology", because that's what arms are. Think about cryptography. Now think about munitions, Now back to Cryptography

        Remember, certain types of software are actually considered munitions for the purpose of export. I wonder if that line of reasoning has ever been tested in court: "the government defines this software as a weapon, so the 2nd Amendment applies". That could turn into an interesting legal argument.

    • I hope the 3D guns people stop before they ruin the 3D printed future for the rest of humanity.

      The "3D guns people" are not the ones who are pushing for restrictions here. Your argument is morally equivalent to blaming the rape victim because she was wearing a miniskirt in a bad neighborhood - it may well be "inviting" rape, but the blame is still with the rapist.

    • by swillden (191260)

      Am I the only one who thinks that these idiots are creating 3D printed guns solely to provoke TPTB into regulating 3D printers?

      The only one? Almost certainly not. Of course, all of you are wrong. The guys making the 3D-printed guns are quite clear about their rationale.

  • cynical comment on America's infantile fascination with things that go "bang!". I hope they display it along side binky's and other such icons of preintellectual babyishness.

  • Why is the 3D gun such a big deal? Granted it is a milestone in 3D printing that a gun can be made. But really what else? Why is this anymore of a terrorist threat than a zip gun? Zip guns are often made in prisons by convicts and, in previous generations, by ghetto kids. All one needs is a strong tube, an improvised firing pin and an actuator (such as a rubber band) to drive the pin into the percussion cap.
    • by hey! (33014)

      I don't even think it counts as a milestone in 3D printing. It is essentially *is* a zip gun. The hard part of the finished *system*, whether it's a printed plastic gun or a zip gun, is in the ammunition. A "gun" such as this simply provides a source of mechanical impact to ignite the primer in a cartridge. A nail and rubber band can perform that trick.

      When you can 3D print, on a printer that is within the price range of a consumer, a gun that approaches the reliability, accuracy, and ergonomics of a che

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