Misinformation, panic, and 3D printed guns

ACID has long been of the view that current UK legislation is not fit for purpose to deter counterfeiters from seeking the fast track to market through 3D printing. Hailed by many as the new 4th industrial revolution, and rightly so, opening new horizons to make bespoke 3D objects easy and fine-tuning prototyping and tailoring manufacturing as never before but does this also present opportunities for mass counterfeiting? The USA would appear to be far way ahead in their thinking on this subject.

Thirty years ago a similar change began with the emergence of digital technology and its repercussions on analogue industries (think vinyl being replaced by CD).Twenty years ago it was the arrival of the internet and global instantaneous delivery of perfect copies of content, and ten years ago the emergence of smart phones and internet connected TVs, transforming devices at home and in your pocket that both allow for delivery of content as well content creation.

Up until now the design sector has been relatively unaffected by these digital developments but 3D printing technology is already changing the design, engineering, technology and manufacturing and we are only on the cusp of what could be monumental change. With 3D technology developing at break-neck speed.

John Hornick was a partner in the Washington, D.C. office of the Finnegan IP law firm and frequently speaks and writes on 3D printing, and is recognized as a thought leader in this space.


Read his recent update following a long running lawsuit over whether the government can block the Internet distribution of Defense Distributed’s digital blueprints for 3D printing a certain weapon and weapon parts.  Since the settlement, state attorneys general and state and U.S. policy makers have been panicking, and Congress has pressured the White House to reverse the settlement, party fuelled by misinformation and a basic misunderstanding of the facts.

There are two main issues:  can or should the courts or legislatures take any action, and would whatever they do be effective?  As an understanding of the facts will show, any court or legislative action cannot stop the dissemination of digital blueprints for 3D printed weapons or the actual 3D printing of weapons.  At most, court rulings, laws, and regulations can provide a mechanism for punishing anyone who is caught violating them, or using 3D printed weapons for illegal purposes.

Read the full article here .

Presidential Tweet and Possible New Federal Laws

On July 31, President Trump tweeted that allowing the distribution to resume “doesn’t seem to make much sense,” suggesting that he might instruct the State Department to reverse the settlement.  However, the President can’t make ITAR apply if it does not.


Any efforts by the States or the federal government to prevent Defense Distributed’s digital blueprints from being further disseminated are probably not good uses of resources because the designs are easily duplicated, are available from other sources, and are less sophisticated than other 3D printed weapons, components, and accessories, and their digital blueprints, which are available on the Internet.  It is also impossible to prevent a 3D printer from printing a weapon. As attorney Kelsey Wilbanks recently wrote “obtaining the digital instructions to print and assemble an undetectable and untraceable 3D printed gun will probably soon be as simple as ordering and assembling home furniture.”  In other words, the cat can’t be put back in the bag.

See John Hornick’s videos here on You Tube

“3D Printing and the Future (or Demise) of Intellectual Property”

“3D Printing State of the Art: Industrial”

“Breaking Chains and Shaking Foundations:  The Story of ZeframWD”