The technosphere—which is currently in love with 3D printing (see the cover of the new issue of WIRED)—was abuzz, earlier this week, with the news that a 3D printer company had seized its leased unit from the home of a man planning to print out a pistol. Cody Wilson, director of an online project called the Wiki Weapon movement, is a second-year law student at the University of Texas at Austin who raised $20,000 online for the specific purpose of leasing a 3D printer, using it to design and produce a 3D-printed pistol capable of getting off a single shot, and sharing the schematics online. Stratasys, the company that had leased Wilson the 3D printer, got wind of the project and—citing US firearms laws—repossessed the printer.
As the design blog Core77 pointed out last week, we’ve heard about a plastic one-shot gun before, somewhere. Where? In the 1993 movie “In the Line of Fire,” that’s where. In it, John Malkovich plays an ex-CIA assassin hiding out—this detail tickled the folks at Core77—as a design professor at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. He cobbles together a plastic gun, which he smuggles through a metal detector in an attempt to kill the president of the United States. The movie devotes a montage sequence of considerable length to the plastic-gun molding process; thanks to the 3D printing revolution, however, one of these days all we’ll have to do—should we want a plastic one-shot pistol—is upload a diagram and press a button.