PHOENIX - For the first time, a 3D printer has produced a functioning handgun that has been fired in the U.S., and some are criticizing the burgeoning technology.
The controversial group responsible for making the gun, Defense Distributed, has been trying for a year to create the weapon. It was fired successfully Saturday at a firing range near Austin, Texas,
the BBC reports.
The group plans to make the blueprints available online, allowing anyone with a 3D printer to recreate the firearm.
Defense Distributed is headed by Cody Wilson, a 25-year-old law student at the University of Texas.
"I think a lot of people weren't expecting that this could be done," he told the BBC.
Many people have hailed 3D printing as the future of manufacturing. The technology creates complex solid objects by building layer upon layer of material, usually plastic.
As the printers become cheaper, consumers will be able to download designs for products online and print out the items at home rather than go to the store.
Wilson made the gun using a printer he bought on eBay for $8,000. The gun is made entirely from plastic except for the firing pin.
Before making the firearm, Wilson received a manufacturing and seller's license from the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
Groups looking to tighten gun laws have expressed concern over the gun's creation and say the guns could easily fall into the wrong hands.
"Just about anything and everything really can be made with these (printers), we can take someone's sketch on a napkin and make it reality," said
PADT Application Engineer John Wright while standing in front of one of the company's 3D printers.
Wright said the Tempe company makes products for companies worldwide and sees the technology growing.
"It's amazing how far it's come and will be interesting where it's at in 10 years," said Wright.