3D printed guns, laws and regulations, and philosophical discussions on the nature of printed objects

For as long as they’ve been banded about, 3D printers were regarded as the path to a new economy, a method of distributed manufacturing, and a revolution for the current consumer culture. With every revolution, a few people need to get angry and the guys at Defense Distributed are doing their part to make that happen. They’re designing a handgun able to be printed on a hobbyist-level 3D printer

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen a 3D printable weapon; this 3D printed AR-15 lower receiver is the only part of an AR-15 that contains the ID markings and serial number. Legally, the AR lower is the gun, and requires a background check to purchase (with the footnote that this varies from state to state and country to country – long story short, the BATFE probably isn’t happy about a 3D printed AR lower). The one drawback of a 3D printed AR-15 lower is that every other part of the gun must be purchased elsewhere. This is where Defense Distributed comes in: they propose designing a gun that is 100% printable on a hobbist-level 3D printer such as a RepRap or Makerbot.

Right now, Defense Distributed is looking for funding to produce two gun designs. The first design, WikiWep A will serve as a research build, allowing Defense Distributed to answer a few questions on what can be built with a RepRap. WikiWep B will have moving parts for the firing action and very nearly all the parts will be printable on a RepRap or Makerbot.

In the video Defense Distributed put up for their now cancelled IndieGoGo campaign (available after the break), the guys talk about the distribution of a CAD file of completely 3D printable weapon being a threshold of a new economy where laws and regulations cease to apply. We’re not sure we agree with that statement; after all, anyone with some metal forming tools can build an excellent weapon to acquire another weapon, but we’re interested in seeing what governments and regulators will make of Defense Distributed’s project.

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Visualizing water droplets and building a CT scanner

Since his nerves were wracked by presenting his project to an absurdly large crowd at this year’s SIGGRAPH, [James] is finally ready to share his method of mixing fluids via optical tomography with a much larger audience: the readership of Hackaday.

[James]‘ project focuses on the problem of modeling mixing liquids from a multi-camera setup. The hardware is fairly basic, just 16 consumer-level video cameras arranged in a semicircle around a glass beaker full of water.

When [James] injects a little dye into the water, the diffusing cloud is captured by a handful of Sony camcorders. The images from these camcorders are sent through an algorithm that selects one point in the cloud and performs a random walk to find every other point in the cloud of liquid dye.

The result of all this computation is a literal volumetric cloud, allowing [James] to render, slice, and cut the cloud of dye any way he chooses. You can see the videos produced from this very cool build after the break.

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Recreating [Phillip K. Dick] in android form… and losing his head

Yes, that’s an android of [Phillip K. Dick]. While you don’t necessarily need to be familir with [Phillip K. Dick] to find this story amusing, we highly recommend that you take a few minutes to learn about him if you don’t recognize the name. [Phillip K. Dick], or [PKD] was a science fiction author and created many of the ideas and even base stereotypes for the science fiction movies you are probably very familiar with.

Most of that, however, isn’t completely relevant to the story here. Someone decided to build an android [Phillip K. Dick]. A move that generally results in expeditions deep into the uncanny valley and causes people to want to keep their distance. In this case, however, the fancy android head of [P.K.D] was left in an overhead compartment in an airplane for a short time by accident. During this short time, someone took it and it has not been seen since.

The story of the entire build and design process is actually quite intriguing. Not only did they sculpt a likeness of [P.K.D.] and add some motion to it, they compiled a database of his essays and writings from which it will create answers that are at least tinted with his thoughts. A method very similar to something he himself wrote about back in 1964.

S.H.I.E.L.D. Heli Carrier brought to life

This fantastic work by [Native18] shows a quad copter reproduction of the Heli carrier used by the Avengers. Following this thread (translated), you can follow along his thought process as well as his build process as he proceeds. The construction is mainly paper and lightweight foam, but it still manages to float and even take off from the water.

We’ve seen other aircraft carrier designs before, but not many this well polished, and none that took off from water.

[via technabob]

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