A printable gun will be available over the internet within months if the Wiki Weapon Project succeeds in creating a successful 3D file.
“It’s an idea whose time has come,” developer Cody Wilson of Defense Distributed says.
But he stresses the firearm isn’t the important part, it’s the technology that makes this project worthwhile, particularly at a time when governments and individuals are struggling over the control or freedom of information available on the internet.
“The product isn’t important here,” Wilson says. “What we’re interested in producing is a digital file.”
The file would be shared across the internet.
Defense Distributors, which is not a company but a group of interested developers, is looking for funding but says it only needs $20,000, which would also buy the high-end 3D printer required for the job.
It is far from clear how serious they are about this project, or whether it is perhaps little more than a stunt, but there is general agreement in the 3D printing industry that the technology is almost ready to support a working firearm.
Two simple designs are in the pipeline, one a non-working prototype, the other a working one which would be entirely plastic and produced in .22LR calibre.
The idea would be that the firearm only has to shoot once, not survive through years of use, because it is intended as a means of self-defence.
All the same, Wilson admits they don’t yet know if they can make a plastic handgun strong enough to sustain even one round of .22 rimfire, and part of the project’s future is modelling this possibility.
“We will have the reality of a weapon system that can be printed out from your desk. Anywhere there’s a computer, there’s a weapon,” he says.
He claims the Wiki Weapons Project is about “the preservation of human dignity in a world of accelerating inhumanity”, as much regarding freedom on the internet as gun rights.
“Information should be free, and it wants to be.”