3D printers creating ghost guns

3D printing has been used in almost everything from the creation of aerospace components to toys, prosthetic legs, functioning kidneys and blood vessels.

Additive manufacturing, also known as Elemental 3D printing is the official industry standard term for all types of applications of 3D technology. It is a process of joining materials to make objects from 3D model data by constructing numerous thin layers of material. 3D printing came to existence 3 decades ago. It is a way of developing physical models from digital designs. 

Nowadays, many countries like China, Germany and Sweden are focusing on 3D printing. The advent of 3D printing technology has facilitated the creation of customised objects. The most commonly used materials by 3D printers are polylactic acid and acrylonitrile butadiene styrene. 3D printers work like inkjet printers but the only difference is that instead of ink, they deposit the desired material in numerous layers to create a physical object from a digital file. 

In the defence industry, the developing interest in 3D printing technology is global. There have been reports that China is printing aircraft parts and putting them directly into J-15 fighters on the runway. The US Department of Defence has also been spending on 3D printers, supplies and upkeep since the 1990s, while Singapore has reportedly invested $500 million in its own 3D printing programme very recently. 

3D printing is an ideal way to meet urgent operational requirements of warfare  

There are some obvious advantages in the field of Defence. One would be to print 3D damaged components in an unfriendly situation rather than waiting for the parts to get replaced. Secondly, it would be safe if 3D printers are being used to print sensitive objects on-site rather than taking a risk to let them fall into the wrong hands while in transit. 3D printers help printing objects on the spot rather than waiting for them to arrive.

Many questions were raised after the advent of 3D printers related to the security of civilians because unlike store-bought firearms, 3D-printed guns don't require the serial numbers that allow law enforcement to trace the ownership of the weapon. Such untraceable weapons are sometimes called "ghost guns".

And unlike gun retailers, 3D-printers don't require you to pass a background check before producing a gun part by part. That means such guns could fall into the hands of those not legally allowed to buy firearms including minors, criminals or a mentally challenged person. 

Recently, Tendai Muswere, 26, from central London, UK, became the first person to be convicted for using 3D printers to manufacture guns which were capable of firing lethal shots, Police said on Wednesday. 

In countries like India, it’s a new challenge for the law enforcement authority where sale or possession of firearms without a proper license is illegal, individuals can get a gun printed from themselves. The Indian law does not have any specific law to penalize individuals who sell or possess 3D printed guns.


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