3D Printer Confiscated From Wiki Weapon Project

Stratasys Inc. confiscated the 3D printer they leased to Cody Wilson, the law student behind the Wiki Weapon project. Slate reports

Turns out the company that leased Defense Distributed its 3-D printer doesn’t see it that way. In a letter to Wilson dated Sept. 26, the legal counsel for Stratasys Inc. informed Wilson that it was cancelling his lease of the company’s uPrint SE printer. “It is the policy of Stratasys not to knowingly allow its printers to be used for illegal purposes,” the company wrote, noting that Wilson lacked a federal license for manufacturing firearms.

Wilson has maintained that he doesn’t need a license, because he’s not planning to sell the weapon. But Stratasys was not impressed. Wired’s Danger Room blog reports that the company’s representatives showed up at his door to seize the device.

Stratasys have been ill advised, both by their legal team (it is legal in many states to manufacture guns for personal use) and by their PR team (see The Streisand Effect). I am sure Cody Wilson was hoping for this kind of mainstream publicity.

[ Many thanks to Matt & Stew for the tip. ]





Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


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  • Reverend Clint

    i smell a lawsuit sponsored by the NRA, though they are bestest buddies with the gun manufactures who might see this as cutting in on their biz.

  • D

    Reason 7322 to never lease any piece of vital equipment.

  • Nicks87

    Im pretty sick and tired of advances in technology being suppressed by the political beliefs of some douche-bag CEO or share holder or board of directors. This is why we are not colonizing the planet Mars right now. Innovative, creative thinkers and designers are being held back by the political views of the people who control all the money.

    Also, I think this isnt about someone breaking the law this is about keeping the technology out of the hands of private citizens. I would bet any money that sometime in the near future a big corperation will start using this same technology and make millions and they govt will pass a law that makes it illegal for us to do the same.

    • Gryphonlore

      “Innovative, creative thinkers and designers are being held back by the political views of the people who control all the money.”

      True, and it’s the way it should be, within reason.

      “Innovative, creative thinkers” decided to test the effects of high altitude/low pressure on humans by sticking Jews into test chambers and testing to destruction, which is a nice clean way of saying they killed the poor bastards. “Innovative, creative thinkers” created Agent Orange, cadmium waste pits, undetectable land mines, and an entire host of other technologies that have claimed millions of victims. Given the advances in nanotechnology, genetics, and robotics, the potential for run-away technology to cause horrendous damage to people and property is truly scary if you think about it too long.

      There has to be some throttle on technology, someone has to be able to say “Stop, you’ve gone too far”. So you get your choice. We can have the government looking over our shoulders and watching EVERY development and approving it by committee. Or the CEO’s and other suits who provide the money (and in this case the equipment) can review a project and say, for whatever business, moral, or political reason, “No, not with our money”.

      I’m an engineer, and I always push my clients to use new and better systems, but I also recognize that I’m spending THEIR money and so they get the final say. Sometimes they make good decisions, sometimes not, but it’s their choice and they are the ones who are held accountable in the end, not me.

      If you want the freedom to do what you want without oversight, great, use your own money. Money comes with strings, always has, always will, and in most cases it’s a good thing.

      As for the rest, big corporations invented this technology and have already been using it for a decade or better. If they had not, printer models that a private individual could afford to buy or even rent would not exist. And it would be difficult to make illegal as you can now make your own 3D printer for about $1800 with off-the-shelf parts.

      • Bryan S.

        That is a societal problem relating to morals. However, those seem to go by the wayside in regards to development and law today. Basically, assume the worst in everyone, and regulate out of existence so no man or woman can hurt another.

      • Nicks87

        First, it’s pretty asinine to misinterperet what I said, as advocating what the Nazi’s did to the Jews or what our own criminal govt has done in the past, in the name of the advancement of technology. This situation described in the article is not about morals. My point is that technology is taken out of the hands of private citizens because of ignorant pseudo-political beliefs and that if we want to move forward technologically, as a society, more faith needs to be put into investing in the little guy instead of taking technology from someone because you THINK they MIGHT break the law. It’s like arresting someone for pre-crime. “I think you are a child moelester so lets put you in prison before you moelest a child.” This way of thinking violates our constitutional rights and is just ignorant fear mongering.

        Also, thank you for further proving my point. It’s people like you that say “this is the way it has always been so let’s keep it that way” that are the problem. Why does there have to be a “throttle on technology” when there are problems in the world that need to be fixed now. Why wait until gas prices are $10 a gallon before we find alternative energry sources? maybe so the oil companies can steal even more of our hard earned money. Maybe we should wait until investors and the govt decide how we should spend OUR money? Wouldnt that be great, because if we leave it up to the people to do things on their own, without govt or big business, we might have another holocaust, right?

      • Gryphonlore

        @Nicks87: You missed my point.

        First, no one took technology out of anyone’s hands. The people on this project are perfectly free to rent a different 3D printer or build their own. It’s not exactly secret-restricted stuff.

        Second, if you loaned a gun to a friend, and then you find out that your friend might use it to commit a crime, do you feel that you should not be able to ask for the gun back?

        Third, I never suggested a complete throttle on on technology, but rather some method of determining which technologies are advanced and which perhaps are best left aside for moral/safety/danger reasons. The mindset that “all uses of technology are good” (general quotes, not your statement) is so very wrong.

        Fourth, I fight the “grandpa did it that way” legacy mindset on virtually every project I work on. You have no way of knowing that, I admit, but I have to say your implication seriously amused me. 😎

      • W

        “True, and it’s the way it should be, within reason.”

        No. Not remotely. This disgusts me pretty bad that somebody would actually say this. At what price do you maintain “within reason”? When you have a loved one dying from a terminal illness that can be cured by stem cell research? when economies collapse due to unaffordable energy? I can go on and on but prefer to stay on subject. I think my point is clear.

        ““Innovative, creative thinkers” decided to test the effects of high altitude/low pressure on humans by sticking Jews…”

        Oh what a nice anti-intellectual argument. Dont forget the political parties that control all of the money, which you so naively believe will regulate “runaway technology”, are actually at fault for implementing the aforementioned atrocities you describe. Innovative, creative thinkers also yielded “E+mc(squared)”, “electricity”, “diesel engines”, “agricultural machinery”, and need I continue???

        “There has to be some throttle on technology, someone has to be able to say “Stop, you’ve gone too far”. So you get your choice…”

        Or politicians interfering in funding for critical research that can cure major illnesses because of religious or ideological reasons…or politicians, bought and paid for by big oil, stifling any attempts to raise MPG standards and market alternatives to gasoline engines (these same fuckers are the reason why there is no respectable amount of 1/2 ton diesel pickup trucks in the US). Sure. Like thats a good alternative. Ill take complete, unmolested technological research thank you very much and so will many others because we prefer not to have politicians or CEOs try and decide what’s relevant for me or not as far as research goes.

        “I’m an engineer, and I always push my clients to use new and better systems, but I also recognize that I’m spending THEIR money and so they get the final say. Sometimes they make good decisions, sometimes not, but it’s their choice and they are the ones who are held accountable in the end, not me.”

        Youre a engineer!? youre kidding me.

        Im with Nicks 100%. This corporate/political molestation of scientific research only benefits massive bureaucracies, which in turn leads to runaway costs to the development of any new product. No wonder we are still in the dark ages.

      • Gryphonlore

        @W:

        Nope, not kidding. I’m an engineer, Master’s degree and all. I’ve spent over twenty years learning and using the latest technology tools (CAD, etc.) to put the latest technology toys (servos, polymer bushings, etc.) on the floor of factories around the world.

        What is your qualification to speak intelligently and with experience on the subject of how corporations interact with technology development?

        Here’s the hard truth: The person paying your salary gets the final say on what technology is used. Don’t like that? Fine, find a couple million dollars and hire your own engineers. Who, of course, will have to do it your way unless you want to let them wander off on high-risk developments and find out your new production line is never completed, what does exist works sporadically, and all your money is spent for no productive gain.

        So answer me this, @W, let us say some happy biotechnologist someplace decides, just as a professional challenge, to develop a new and cool biowar plague. And, because he is a small, independent sort of guy, his facilities are not the best, and the plague gets out. So about 4-5 billion people die worldwide. All this because no one dared to say “No” to his work. That’s OK with you?

        My comments about “throttle” and “within reason” means that someone else, your boss, whoever, looks over your should and agrees with you that what you are doing is a good thing and should go forward. Checks and balances.

        Technology without some kind of check scares the hell out of me. I’ve seen enough real situations in real life to be fairly confident in that opinion. If you have an opinion to the contrary please cite examples from your personal experience.

      • Chris

        I don’t see why this is such a big deal. I could stamp or mill out some aluminum pretty easily with tools that can be bought at Lowes. Does that mean all metal working tools should be regulated?

      • LibertarianLurker

        Given that the abuses cited were committed by criminal organizations, i.e. governments and their cronies, why would MORE oversight prevent said abuses? If any throttle needs controlling, it is the wide open one accelerating govt. growth.

      • Nicks87

        W, Chris and LL. Thanks for the back up.

        Gryph, I see your point but big brother cant/wont keep you safe. Humans have been controlled by the ruling classes for too long. It’s time to try a new way of thinking.

        Life is full of risks and when you limit the ability of people to take risks you are building a huge brick wall in front of the advancement of civilization.

      • Gryphonlore

        @Nicks87

        As annoying as corporate politics are when they interfere with technology, the idea of the government taking that role is truly frightening, I agree. We need a better system, but this is the one we have right now. Technology development takes cash, and people who have cash are not in the habit of giving it out without some strings attached.

        Humanity needs to get off this rock and to the stars, I truly take that as gospel. But I also want those people who settle on those distant worlds to be recognizably human. Corporations, and the public pressure they face to be responsible, are the only system we have right now to prevent techo-chaos.

        We do need a new and better system, I totally agree. But right now a better one isn’t available. Personally, I completely disagree with Stratasys’s decision, but they have a right to make that choice, and my point here is that right is not criminal, not evil, and in fact is a necessary (if sometimes regrettable) element of the process.

  • jacob

    Although the reaction may be overly sensitive, it is a risk for the company to not act. You can’t really just take a strangers word and risk losing a very expensive piece of hardware. That 3D printer is someones livelyhood and dabbling in grey areas of firearm building probably wasn’t something they calculated in their business plan.

  • Greg

    I too thought they were off base upon first hearing of this, until I read this Wired article:

    http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2012/10/3d-gun-blocked/

    They note the existence of an “Undetectable Firearms Act,” which I had never heard of before now. A bit of info on the original act in 1988 from thomas.gov (http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d100:HR04445:@@@L&summ2=m&):

    Undetectable Firearms Act of 1988 – Amends the Federal criminal code to make it unlawful to manufacture, import, sell, ship, deliver, possess, transfer, or receive any firearm: (1) which is not as detectable as the Security Exemplar (after the removal of grips, stocks, and magazines) by walk-through metal detectors calibrated and operated to detect the Exemplar; or (2) of which any major component, when subjected to inspection by x-ray machines commonly used at airports, does not generate an image that accurately depicts the shape of the component.

    Defines the term “Security Exemplar” to mean an object that is suitable for testing and calibrating metal detectors and is, during the 12-month period beginning on the date of enactment of this Act, constructed of 3.7 ounces of stainless steel in a shape resembling a handgun. Directs the Secretary of the Treasury, at the close of such 12-month period and at appropriate times thereafter, to promulgate regulations to permit the manufacture, importation, sale, shipment, delivery, possession, transfer, or receipt of firearms that are as detectable as a security exemplar which contains 3.7 ounces of stainless steel or such lesser amount as is detectable in view of advances in state-of-the-art developments in weapons detection technology.

    ____

    This act was renewed twice, and will currently sunset in 2013 if not renewed again.

    I think the creation of an all-plastic weapon would indeed fall under section (1) above, as it would clearly be more undetectable than their “Security Exemplar.” Just another gun ban that needs to go away…

    • noob

      what if you sent in a security exemplar that was all plastic? the xray at my local airport can see the outline of my plastic sunglasses.

      actually the problem here is that the firearm can be tweaked to look like anything by altering the cad file or gcode file. put some uesless flanges on it. make it break down into parts or fold up. you could get creative.

  • As a matter of US law, Stratsys may not be completely off base here. I have some analysis here:

    http://www.pagunblog.com/2012/10/02/company-demands-return-of-leased-3d-printer/

    It’s perfectly legal to make a gun yourself, in most states. But the Undetectable Firearms Act of 1988 is a problem if you intend to make a gun out of mostly plastic, and not based on an established designed. There’s a bit of voodoo this this law, but it’s something to content with, and Stratsys’s lawyers may have gotten justifiably spooked once they realized what the goals were.

    • gunslinger

      isn’t an AR15 an “established design?”

      • bbmg

        The AR lower illustrated is misleading, what the Wiki Weapon project was trying to achieve was printing an entire new weapon.

  • jim

    it all seems like a stunt..

    it *could be* construed that Cody Wilson isn’t doing this for the benefit of the firearm community.. it could be a stunt to bring attention to the idea of 3D printing firearms, in general.. to create an unfounded fear that firearms can now be printed as simply as word document.. all to bring to bear new restrictions and new firearms laws which are not based in reality.. to set the floor for new firearm ban discourse in congress and the senate.. this *could be* the point in this..

    • FormerSFMedic

      Yes! I agree Jim. I was just saying the same thing yesterday when I read about all this. I think overall, this project is more harm than good. What you have to understand is that the guys running this project are not big “Second Amendment gun guys”. They are college student gun enthusiast. These are the kind of individuals that look at guns like technology rather than a lifestyle. This project is more of a ” stunt” than experiment. It’s not a matter of If it can be done. It has already been done many times. They say they want to make the information open source yet you have to have a $20,000 printer to accomplish the task. It seems these guys are after some sort of notoriety and are ignoring the impact it may or may not have on the firearms community. As gun owners, we have to be careful about who we support because sometimes the other party isn’t necessarily supporting us.

  • anon

    I suspect they probably didn’t want to run the risk of the BATF confiscating the very expensive printer they leased to the guy if they decide he’s in violation of some law.

  • MrMaigo

    It’s their hardware, they can do with it what they want. I’m sure there’s wording in their contract to do that. Even then, a civil suit is better than the BATFE.

  • mechamaster

    Oh wow ! Imagine if they make a polymer-bullet case or homemade hand-grenade in 3D printer too… and that’s become illegal.

    • Cymond

      A plastic grenade seems a little pointless. The purpose of a grenade’s metal shell is to build pressure and to blast shrapnel when the grenade explodes. A plastic shell would only work if using a very potent explosive compound, in which case, the plastic shell isn’t really needed.

      Also, there’s no need for a shell-casing at all with a muzzle-loading design.

      • 032125

        Not if you pack it with BBs.

  • 13

    Should have bought the printer….then this discussion would be moot.

    • RocketScientist

      Sorry for the completely unrelated question… but 13, are you by chance a younger guy named Brian F.? Knew someone once who went by ’13’ as a nickname. If not, please disregard.

  • Mike Knox

    Again, should have made a bet something like this would happen about this project. Sounds like some internet squealer went..

  • 1. Acquire 3D printer.
    2. Churn out plastic AR 15 lowers.
    3. Turn in vast quantities at a gun buyback.
    4. Profit
    5. Rinse
    6. Repeat

  • Zermoid

    “It is the policy of Stratasys not to knowingly allow its printers to be used for illegal purposes”

    Illegal purposes?

    If it was illegal I’m sure BATFE would be at the door, not the printer’s owners! After all they are hardly hiding what they are doing posting it on the web!

  • Travis

    I am not affiliated with this project, but I saw this. Its got the name for a reason 🙂

    http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/formlabs/form-1-an-affordable-professional-3d-printer

    • bbmg

      These might be a bit more accurate than a good FDM printer, but on the other hand the material is not as strong as the ABSplus used by the Stratasys printers.

  • Nicks87

    Related video.

  • Nicks87

    Sorry, wrong video. Here’s the right one.

  • Axel

    Show me one electronic trigger mechansim that really works in all weathers! As much as I love the idea, I still have not seen or heard of one!

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