Defense Distributed, otherwise known as DEFCAD, has become famous (infamous?) for their pioneering research and development of printable 3D firearms technology. The Austin, Texas-based company, less than a year old, has been the subject of much debate. On the morning of April 1, 2013, the company's domain page cleared to a full page, 'this domain has been seized' warning with the official seal of the BATF and the US Department of Homeland Security Investigations.
Here at Firearms Talk we decided to take a closer look at this for you.
What is a 3D Printed Gun?
Through the use of 3D printing, also known as Additive Manufacturing takes a perfect three-dimensional rendering of a scanned object from a CAD system. Inside the software the design can be rotated, tweaked, and modified if needed. Then with the use of a CAD-assisted 3D printer filled with raw media (think liquid polymer filaments) you have a real tangible item. Now a 3D printer is not like what you have hooked up to your laptop at home or the office for printing 2D paper copies, think something much more modern and 'next level.'
For example, scan a plastic tumbler, upload it, and print out 10 tumblers on the other side that are 100% exact copies. Today these printers can be bought for as little as $2000 and it's believed that these replicators will be 'every home' common in the next decade.
Now go and scan a polymer lower for an AR15, or a Magpul style 30-round magazine...and you see the implications.
Benjamin Denio and Cody R Wilson, young University of Texas Law students, formed a company in July 2012 with the avowed goal to open-source publish schematics that would enable a " a working plastic gun that could be downloaded and reproduced by anybody with a 3D printer." Named Defense Distributed or DECAD, in Austin Texas, the pair have applied for a manufacturing (Type 7 or SOTs) FFL to make 3D printed polymer lowers, magazines, etc. on a commercial off the shelf Objet Connect http://objet.com/ printer. In tests, they have 'printed' receivers that have fired more than 600-rounds with the attachment of standard uppers and parts kits.
(24-minute Motherboard/Vice documentary behind the 3D printed gun concept.)
When you go to the company's website, http://defensedistributed.com/, today you get a notice from the Department of Homeland Security and the BATFE stating that the site has been seized by a US District Court order after the company and those associated with it have possibly been charged with "Conspiracy to Violate the Arms Export Control Act (22 U.S.C 2778), Conspiracy to Violate the Undetectable Firearms Act (18 U.S.C. 922(p)), Conspiracy to Commit Money Laundering (18 U.S.C. 1956(h)), and Criminal Copyright Infringement (18 U.S.C. 2, 2319; 17 U.S.C. 506)."
Little information other than this is forthcoming which may mean that something is rather off in this 'seizure'. Of course, it's April Fool's Day...and while the seizure may not be 100% real, the technology behind it is.