Makers Local

I want to point out first that these people aren’t nuts, but they are technology geeks. There are a good number of people who love 3-D printing, laser cutters, fab machines. They also do some hacking, some EMP, and a good bit of random art projects. I think they have a lot of LAN parties as well. Frankly, I’ve been over to the local group a total of twice, but a good friend of mine donated his laser and has built a couple of fabs.

Why? I’m not sure I can answer this for you. Either the idea of playing with a 3D printer is worth a couple nights out of your week, or you go fishing. Huntsville is a pretty tech-savvy town, but I expect that most cities over 100,000 people support one or more “Makers” groups. Heck, I want to play just to cut steampunk gears. (Using the laser, you can cut them out of a vinyl plastic material or plywood and they don’t weigh like brass. A good paint job (or three) and they look like well-used sprockets.  

Not to drift too far afield, I was bringing them up to discuss this marvel.

The 3D-printed gun that Cody Wilson calls the “Liberator.” Click to enlarge. (Credit: Michael Thad Carter for Forbes)

A single-shot lexan pistol is not going to win a gunfight, but it could be built, easily, in one of those 3D printers. Go ahead and ban the design. Go ahead and ban trading in mp3s and japanese anime while you’re at it. The design is out there. It isn’t an assault weapon, but really, nothing sold in the US is, despite the national media. (Oh, the M16’s that our army sells to Mexico’s army are assault weapons…the fact that those weapons end up on the streets of Mexico City is a big issue…but their issue, not ours.) What is the issue is that this is a single summer’s work from an amature. Get a gun professional and a materials scientist together for 6 months and I expect the results will look a lot like a .38 special.

In 10 years, I expect the printable materials will include high temperature ceramics and metals, the printing materials will be better than 90% of the materials currently used on handguns. With the exception of the barrel, I expect that most towns could start an assembly line of automatic weapons. This isn’t to suggest that we ban … something… or make anything illegal, but we really need to discuss the future of technology. “False shortages,” usually due to government interference, are simply not going to affect the rate of distribution to the populace.

My dad used to tell me stories about putting together cars in the barn on his dad’s farm. In the 50’s, the government didn’t control much about cars and couldn’t mandate headlights, much less seatbelts. Now days, the government is happy to restrict everything about cars, guns, or medicine. 99.9% of that is for the good, but those 50 years of regulation may be coming to an end.

2 thoughts on “Makers Local”

  1. It looks like the State Department has demanded a takedown. Now the files are up on Pirate Bay, while Washington is brainstorming about how to render this technology inaccessible.

    It seems now that to violate the 2nd amendment, they’ll have to (and are quite willing to) violate the 1st!

  2. Congress knows that there are crazy old ladies more likely to vote than all the Makers in the US. So they play to the nervous old ladies. “Lets Pass A LAW!”

    The hucksters in general won’t do anything meaningful. They’ll propose a law and the decent lawyers in congress will shoot it down. If it did get passed, it would get destroyed by the supreme court. In the meantime, the president has done some feel-good motions like making the tech ITAR… which is both ineffective and crazy. The 3D printer should be ITAR, … but everyone has them now. The design is a piece of crap. I’ve built better guns with a metal pipe and a nail. Heck, my potato gun was more lethal. Certainly any off the shelf shotgun is an order of magnitude more lethal than a .22 pistol. 

    Yes, it demonstrates how flimsy their principles are…but I’ve been cynical about that a long time. I’m glad they are demonstrating their feckless nature to the world again. 


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