Forbes continues its coverage of crypto-anarchist Cody Wilson, a 25-year-old Texas law student who wants to radically democratize gunmaking with 3D-printers. His nonprofit Defense Distributed has produced the first entirely 3D-printed gun, a pistol called the Liberator. Crypto-anarchism began as an online movement of individuals using sophisticated digital encryption to shield their identities from government authorities. A key technological trend of the next decade will be the “Internet of Things,” in which physical objects communicate and interact digitally. A classic example is the refrigerator that notifies its owner, perhaps through a text message, to purchase more milk.
3D printers deposit layers of plastic (or other materials like silk protein and stem cells) according to a virtual blueprint, creating a physical object. The devices are becoming increasingly sophisticated, offering multiple materials and endless shades of color. Defense Distributed has already created extended magazines and AR-15 lower receivers, but every component of the Liberator pistol was printed. A lump of steel was integrated in deference to federal laws against firearms which elude metal detectors. Yet this only illustrates how disruptive this technology will be. Defense Distributed is open source, publishing its work and digital designs online for free. Once it publishes the files for its Liberator prototype, anyone with a computer and the right kind of 3D-printer will be able to print a plastic firearm.
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