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I am fortunate to get to work with an awesome technology that makes good everything it touches. Yes, 3D printing makes good happen every day; whether its printing Bespoke prosthetics that restore functionality and symmetry or giving someone their hearing back with a custom fit hearing aid. We help racecar drivers break records, consumer brands create fun products and aerospace companies improve fuel efficiency. I am truly blessed to get to work with brilliant people and cutting edge technology that makes the world around us a better place.
Sadly, my expanding making good reality is becoming a corporate and political rarity. Just turn on the news at any given point during the day and experience how much bad is being made around us. Regrettably sometimes within our amazing 3D printing zone, someone pushes the limits to reveal that even this technology can be used for bad purposes. Case in point; Popular Science's John Robb reported recently on a person who claims that his 3D-printed pistol successfully fired live ammunition. The same person then went on to print a working AR-15 rifle automatic conversion kit to become the first person to construct and shoot a submachine gun partly made out of 3D-printed parts. The creator, who goes by the name HaveBlue, has reportedly fired 200 rounds with his part-plastic automatic weapon.
This isn’t a gun control tirade, as an ex-military man, I have been around guns all my life. While I’m grateful that HaveBlue responsibly showed us what could be done (before someone dangerous hijacked this capability to do evil), I am nonetheless deeply concerned about what it informs and conditions. Here we are spending our days (and nights) improving 3D printing by making it faster, precise, affordable, and easier to use, yet it has not been top of mind to prevent unintended uses – like unlawful printing of regulated gun parts.
But here is the rub; now that we understand the potential negative consequences; we can’t bury our heads in the sand! Keeping 3D printing positive, allowing it to continue to make good requires decisive action - industry wide action.
With that in mind, I call on our capable and responsible industry leaders to join me in making 3D printing good and the community safe. Without taking a position on gun control laws, our responsibility is to be lawful – to ensure that 3D printing remains an amazing tool and a transformative experience for everyone. We should join together so parents don’t have to worry their child might print something illegally and communities don’t have to worry that someone irresponsible will open fire with a printed weapon and companies don’t have to worry about counterfeiting and piracy. Let’s work together, to ensure, that our technology is tailored to make good educationally, commercially and experientially.