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3D Printer and parts seized by police
The images show the MakerBot, 3D printed trigger and magazine seized by Greater Manchester Police
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Non 3D Printed improvised weapons
These images show two types of crude firearms, which are far more effective than any 3D printed one.
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One Twitter user shows us where the "gun parts" could be found
Greater Manchester Police have moved to stress that they aren't sure whether or not these are 3D printed gun parts.
Assistant Chief Constable Steve Heywood said: "We need to be absolutely clear that at that this stage, we cannot categorically say we have recovered the component parts for a 3D gun.
"What we have seized are items that need further forensic testing by national ballistics experts to establish whether they can be used in the construction of a genuine, viable firearm.
"We will also be conducting a thorough analysis of computers we have recovered to establish any evidence of a blueprint on how to construct such a weapon.
"Clearly the fact we have seized a 3D printer and have intelligence about the possible production of a weapon using this technology is of concern. It prudent we establish exactly what these parts can be used for and whether they pose any threat.
"What this has also done is open up a wider debate about the emerging threat these next generation of weapons might pose.
"The worrying thing is for me is that these printers can be used to make certain components of guns, while others can be legitimately ordered over the Internet without arousing suspicion. When put together, this could allow a person to construct a firearm in their own home."
Greater Manchester Police this morning raided several homes in a crackdown on organised crime under the Operation Challenger umbrella. Among the seized items were counterfeit goods worth £2m, more than £330,000 of drugs and £25,000 cash and from one home a MakerBot Replicator 2, a (suspected) plastic magazine and trigger, which detectives suspect could be fitted together to make a firearm.
Det Insp Chris Mossop, of GMP, said: "If what we have seized is proven to be viable components capable of constructing a genuine firearm, then it demonstrates that organised crime groups are acquiring technology that can be bought on the high street to produce the next generation of weapons.
"In theory, the technology essentially allows offenders to produce their own guns in the privacy of their own home, which they can then supply to the criminal gangs who are causing such misery in our communities.
"Because they are also plastic and can avoid X-ray detection, it makes them easy to conceal and smuggle."
He added: "If what we have seized today can, as we suspect, be used to make a genuine firearm then today will be an important milestone in the fight against this next generation of homemade weapons."
The seizure has caused outrage in the national mainstream press as these “Homemade Killers” are available for “Anyone to download”. GMP’s Press Release says, “The technology works by allowing anyone who has a 3D printer - which can be bought on the high street for about £1,200 - to download designs for guns or components. The printers themselves squirt molten plastic to produce 3D shapes of whatever design has been downloaded.”
Greater Manchester Police (GMP) also said forensic experts were assessing whether the parts could make a viable gun. “Whether” and “Viable” being the keywords there, because in fact they're not gun parts at all. Many of the good people and 3D printing experts on the Google Plus 3D Printing group and the makers on Twitter say these "gun parts" are in fact an extruder tensioning arm not a trigger and a spool holder not a magazine, both found on Thingiverse.
This "trigger" is plainly an extruder idler tension arm. I totally agree with you about the spool holder thing too.
The 3rd picture was of a MakerBot Replicator 2 (couldn't tell but looked like the single-extruder, not 2X) so it wouldn't be printing for long without the upgrade, and lots of 3rd party plastic spools won't fit on the MBI holder.
Just got off the phone with the Greater Manchester Police Press Office. I informed in detail about the parts, they seemed quite interested, took down details such as what the parts actually were, and the thingiverse links to the items.
The question now is what they do with this new info.
The man who has been arrested in the raid has been arrested on suspicion of making gunpowder and remains in custody. This would suggest he will not be charged for these printed gun parts however before we go super critical on the police force here, Greater Manchester Police have confirmed to me that a pistol was also found at the same address and that the fact these aren't actually gun parts has been brought to their attention. Seems like the damage is done now in terms of bad press for 3D printing though.
The Cody Wilson Liberator, which started all this outrage about 3D printed guns, was made on an industrial sized printer not a desktop one -it was fired once. The Finnish television experiment was printed on an unnamed $15,000 printer and broke to pieces when firing for the first time. Also the Detective mentions that because the item is plastic it could avoid x-rays, but surely the bullets would? Or the metal firing pin used on the Cody Wilson Liberator? Otherwise it'd be nothing but a crude, legal BB gun?
Improvised/homemade firearms have been around for decades as you can see from picture two above this is not something new. 3D printing is just another tool and as Chris Anderson, CEO of 3D Robotics and former editor of Wired, said not an effective tool either, "3D printing is a terrible technology for the working components of a gun. There is no tensile strength. It would blow up in your face. You can buy guns in Walmart -- they are not a scarce product. And if you want a good barrel you can go and get a bit of plumbing from the store."
As our COO, Duncan Wood said this morning, 50 criminals have been arrested, actual guns have been seized, drugs and counterfeit drugs but the story that get picked up by the mainstream media is a 3D printed gun story, that probably isn't a 3D printed gun story at all.