The 3-D printing revolution is coming and it's changing the world already. Click here for a primer on 3-D printing and what it can do now and in the future, then take a look at these amazing videos of 3-D printing in action.
One area where it's causing a lot of controversy, however, is 3D-printed guns. The dream of some people - and nightmare of others - is that anyone with a 3-D printer can download a file online and print an untraceable gun made of plastic.
So far that hasn't panned out so well. There are plastic 3-D printed guns out there, like the Liberator, but they fail after one or two shots and aren't that accurate.
While durability and accuracy is being worked on, however, the creator of the Liberator, Defense Distributed, has another trick up its sleeve.
Defense Distributed recently unveiled its Ghost Gunner unit. This isn't 3-D printing, but it's an older cousin technology called CNC, which stands for "computer numerical control."
CNC milling machines are used in every area of manufacturing to precisely cut and shape parts from blocks of metal and other materials. Here's an example:
Industrial CNC machine are very expensive, but home models are appearing that won't break the bank.
Ghost Gunner costs $1,200 on pre-order and $1,500 retail. It's able to mill a block of material that's up to 9.05 x 3.5 x 3.9 inches. That measurement probably doesn't mean much to you, so let's just say it's large enough to mill the lower receiver of an AR-15-style rifle - which is the Ghost Gunner's main selling point.
The AR-15 is one of the most popular types of rifle around - it's the semi-automatic civilian version of the U.S. military's M-16.
AR-15-style rifles are built by dozens in manufacturers in thousands of configurations with a wide variety of calibers, barrels, stocks, and other attachments, like this Heckler & Koch HK416 I had the pleasure of shooting a few years ago.
Because the AR-15 is so modular, the only part that the government regulates is the lower receiver. This is the part that has the pistol grip, trigger and takes the ammo magazine.
That's also the part that has the serial number of the gun and the part that can't be sold without a license. However, the law says nothing about making your own lower receiver because, until today, it wasn't easy to do.
Ghost Gunner lets anyone automatically turn an aluminum 80% AR-15 Billet into a finished AR-15 lower receiver using a free control file downloaded from Defense Distributed. Files to make an AR-10, 1911 and some custom firearms are on the way.
After the receiver is done its simple to order the other parts online and build the full gun.
With no serial number or sale records, it really is a "ghost gun." And with Ghost Gunner someone could legally make as many untraceable AR-15s as they wanted, as long as they don't sell them.
As you can see from the product video below, Defense Distributed is well aware how controversial this product is and isn't interesting in easing the situation.
So, what do you think of this new development in technology and weaponry? Let me know in the comments.