I think that once 3D printer tech matures and brings some top-level manufacturing capabilities to small dives on a budget (maybe providing tech optimization tools to squeeze higher quality out of the prints.
Guns made from 3D printers are notoriously poor quality, b/c the ABS/PLA material used to make the prints can't withstand even 3 bullets firing w/o melting the barrel beyond use, so those worrying about would-be murderers manufacturing uzis and colts in their bedrooms don't need to worry much...their guns are going to suck hard.
I'm really intrigued w/ 3D printers for a different reason tho, so far as making scale models and controllers. Time to re-learn AutoCAD...
At least, I hope once 3D printer tech matures and brings some top-level manufacturing capabilities to small devs on a budget (maybe providing tech optimization tools to squeeze higher quality out of the prints, on behalf of the user's knowledge to do so), gun control policies won't try to outlaw them or make people who have them pay an extra tax....maybe a license wouldn't be a bad idea tho.
You do not need a plastic gun to fire a full clip. You just need an angry kid with the time and resources to make a gun and use it in a crime and the shitstorm about 3D printing will begin and never end.
Well the obvious reason would be to make it illegal for a 3D printer to be able to print technical drawings of guns-
BUT! The paranoid freaks whose brains have been wiped by NRA 'stats' will come skipping in with their lollipops in their mouths and tell us that actually, you can kill a person just as easily with a poke-in-the-eye; and they'll justify the mass murder of 20 school children because more school children have been hurt from being poked in the eye than by guns- so THEREFORE (conservalogical leap warning!): this means fingers are JUST AS DANGEROUS as guns, and if the 3d printer can print a finger, then it's just as dangerous and can get around the regulatio! AND THEREFORE!!!!!!! (another conservalogical leap coming- just have to warn you!) this means that since fingers are just as dangerous and can't reasonably be prevented from being printed or used by human beings- that NOTHING SHOULD BE DONE ABOUT IT, don't regulate 3D printers and THEREFORE!!!!!! Don't regulate guns either. I think I get the logic now! Do you?
How exactly would you distinguish a 3d-model of a "gun" from a "non-gun"?
No need to cripple 3d-printers. People should be able to print what they want. If people print guns, without appropriate permits, they can be arrested for unlawful manufacture of firearms, or unlawful possession. If on the other hand they have the appropriate permits, why shouldn't they be able to print their own?
Well you can't make the printer know how to distinguish it- there will always be loopholes, and ways around anything. But honestly have you seen these people who try to solve every problem with a 3D printer? They're not too bright- and think they can just print their dinner most of the time- so if the program has a chip that prevents any legit technical readout for a gun to be printed- that will foil most of them and they'll give up. The ones who are really determined will find a way, which is why the government employs programmers who can advise on how to make printers 'smarter' and be able to stop people from printing guns on their computers. It takes the law some time to catch up- but they eventually did. They cought up with cell phones+cars (eventually) and internet laws have also caught up- nobody had any legal ability to enforce copyright through the internet until very recently.
So you think technology should be crippled with DRM just because some people "might" abuse it. Right. It always starts that way, but once the technology is there, even backed up and demanded by a law, know what happens? Next thing you know, the copyright mafia will be all over it, wanting to use that same tech to enforce their "intellectual property" (lol). Then the next thing you know, you try to print a teddy bear or something, and the printer drivers say "sorry, this 3d-form is too close to a copyrighted form owned by Disney corporation". Congrats, your expensive 3d-printer is now a useless brick, that you can only use to print screws and little spare parts for your kids toys and such. Unless you break the law and hack the DRM. In which case a SWAT team will be smashing through your windows, any moment now...
And you think it's a good thing people can "enforce copyright" through the internet? Think again. The copyright mafia is now practically indistinguishable from traditional mafia: they harass people, ask them for money for "protection" or they will sure them for everything they have and possibly make them serve jail time. And all for doing something that should be a basic human right: spreading information. SHARING.
If libraries were invented today, the copyright mafia would demand them all to be burned. Actually, that's what they did, when public libraries WERE invented - the publishing houses thought that no one would buy books and were trying to bully legislators into banning libraries. Luckily, they decided that it's more beneficial for mankind to have an institution for sharing knowledge that benefits everyone, rather than protect the interests of a few already rich businesses. Guess what, the businesses adapted.
The same thing happened with C-casettes (they will ruin the music industry!) and video recorders (they will ruin the TV industry!) and now the same thing is happening with the internet (it will ruin the music, TV, movies etc. industries!)
Every time before, the copyright holders have coped with the new technology, and haven't disappeared anywhere. Now they try to convince us that sharing over the internet is a "crime". That's funny. Not ha-ha funny, but some kind of funny.
So when 3d-printers become more available, the copyright mafia will use the bugbear of "people will print guns!!!!111" just like they use child porn as a bugbear now to raise a moral panic and enact more censorship laws on the internet. They hate the free internet because it interferes with their money-making machine that has churned out money for them for the last few decades, allowing them to get fat.
And now, we should just tell those fat bastards that no, we don't owe them a living, that the world does not need to enact any more censorship or DRM or any other kind of draconian legislation just to guarantee their profits. If they can't support themselves in an environment where sharing is legal, then we don't need them, good riddance.
When I buy a 3d-printer, I want it to not have any kind of DRM, I want it to print exactly what I tell it to print, and not try to guess if what I'm trying to print might be a bad thing.
Let me say it one more time, clearly, so that there's no room for misunderstanding: Progress cannot be halted or turned back to protect the interests of fat corporations and their ancient business models.
Besides, consider this: by the time it's possible to build fully functional firearms entirely by 3d-printing, the technology of 3d-printing will very likley be at the point that 3d-printers will be self-replicating, ie. they are capable of printing copies of themselves.
At that point, any attempts at regulating the technology will be entirely pointless... it'll be a free-for-all, where anyone can print what they want. And I think rather than trying to turn back progress we should learn to live with it and try to use it responsibly.
They'd probably only print inside a specific area within the printer, as the current ones do, and therefore would be bigger than any products they could make. So, at best you could make a smaller one or one that requires more assembly afterwards. Then there's still the matter of getting all the materials needed, which could end up costing a fair bit.
No. Of course you wouldn't print the printer whole, you print it part by part. It would have to be done that way anyway. You could even use a smaller printer to print a LARGER one. You just need enough material.
Getting the materials needed - please, that's not going to be a problem. Plastic is cheap, that's why they do so much stuff out of it in China and Taiwan. The metal for the metal parts, well - the amount of metal that goes to a single printer is not going to cost that much. As long as you don't need a golden printer, you're probably set.
The only problem I can see is the required chips and PCB:s. The PCB:s can probably be easily printed in the future, even with regular 2d-printers. But chip manufacture is still going to be something that requires specialized machinery and factory conditions, I don't see that changing any time in the nearish future.
So the chips would have to be bought, maybe some other small components as well - power sources, resistors, leds, transistors, capacitors etc. but all those are relatively cheap things to acquire - you can already get a fully functional computer for 35$, right now...
Note; material. I wouldn't be surprised if the raw material needed to print one of those printers goes up in price to the point where it'd be cheaper to just buy the printer than make it (monopolies do that).
Building a computer via making the circuitry yourself is something that few people can do, even less bother doing (even if presented with instructions). What makes you think 3D printers are any going to be any different?
Raspberry pi is intended to be as basic as possible. If it were put to the form of a 3D printer in the near future it'd probably be around minecraft level quality.
What. Monopolies. What monopolies??? What are you even talking about?????? The best I can tell, you have some kind of theory that as soon as 3d-printers are able to replicate themselves, some corporation is going to somehow acquire a monopoly to the printing materials? Someone will patent plastic and metal or something?
Just look at the 2d-printer manufacturers, and how well their attempts at monopolizing the inks - for their own printers only - worked out. Everyone and their uncle is selling cheap generic refills and there's nothing they can do about it.
>>> What makes you think 3D printers are any going to be any different?
Why should it be different? There will probably be those who don't want to bother building their own 3d-printer, and there will be good business opportunities for people to build them for those who can't be arsed to build their own. A good, healthy service industry. And all it takes for someone to start up a 3d-printer manufacturing business is to buy one 3d-printer, maybe from another 3d-printer manufacturing business, and start using that one to manufacture their own and selling them. So... what's your point?
>>> Raspberry pi is intended to be as basic as possible. If it were put to the form of a 3D printer in the near future it'd probably be around minecraft level quality.
A Raspberry Pi -level CPU would be more than sufficient to power a 3d-printer. It's not like it needs to do any complex math or anything, that can be done in the computer attached to it. All it has to do is receive input from the computer via USB and translate those to control signals for its servos.
3d modeler here with a couple prints under my belt and currently building my own 3d printer.
To answer your question, very little if any. There are too many problems with trying to print any object like a gun with current units up to and including:
The plastic, resin and sandstone material are too weak to be used for some gun parts, which means you'd have to have the skill, materials and knowledge for molding and casting appropriate materials.
There are metal 3d printers but they require factory sizes for things like the kiln (which get significantly hotter than ceramic kilns). And the metal material are ultra fine metal powders that are both more expensive and less available. The result is also less strong than folded or solid cut metals. And they still have the problem the next paragraph describes.
Walls of a 3d model must be up to a certain thickness which some parts are too thin or too small to work. Below a certain width you'd need a machine to cut thinner pieces from solid blocks.
3d printing has come a long way, but models still lose a lot of detail that would be crucial for fine part articulation.
There isn't a 3d printer that could print a fully assembled gun, which means that the person must have intimate knowledge of gun assembly. And I'm talking factory assembly, not routein assembly.
Tl;dr 3d printers aren't that scary, the CSI gun episode is still squarely within fiction.