The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) posted videos on its YouTube channel showing 3D-printed guns being test-fired with a string pulling the trigger. One 3D-printed handgun goes off like a firecracker
A 3D-printed Liberator built from ABS plastic fires a .380 ACP cartridge and appears to stay in one piece , but then a Liberator printed with translucent VisiJet explodes when its trigger is pulled via a string.
This doesn’t mean that ABS plastic will stand up to a second shot, or a hundredth. Gun manufacturers have established standards and rigorously test new gun designs so they can safely control the explosion that occurs in a gun’s chamber when a firing pin smashes into a primer, igniting a cartridge’s gunpowder.
A fact sheet from the BATFE says that they make “every effort to keep abreast of novel firearms technology and firearms trafficking schemes.” But the Department of Homeland Security announced that 3D-printed guns are “impossible” to control.
People have used lathes and other machinery to make their own guns. And the New York Post reported over a year ago that “Gilman Louie, a San Francisco venture capitalist who used to run the CIA’s venture arm In-Q-Tel, said he used a 3D printer to make part of an AR-15 that would normally come with a serial number. Louie got around the restrictions with the help of his Makerbot printer…. Aside from the Makerbot printer, which costs $2,000, making the AR-15 was relatively cheap. Louie used one to two dollars’ worth of plastic to print the gun part. After printing the piece, known as the lower receiver, Louie shelled out another $400 to $450 to complete the gun with unregulated parts he got from Amazon.com.”
Still, as the video shows, a person tinkering with a CAD program and a 3D printer might find himself on the uncomfortable end of a dangerous learning curve.