It’s the wild, wild West all over again. This time the cowboys aren’t loading up those Winchesters, they’re crowded around the printer while their new 3D gun prints.
The world’s first DIY 3D gun (named The Liberator) was fired in May of 2013 by Cody. Not Buffalo Bill Cody, but 25 year-old Cody Wilson, founder of Defense Distributed
. And the shot heard round the world, whether or not you paid attention, is one that is about to revolutionize life as we know it.
3D printers are not some futuristic fiction; they’re here now. What’s more, the price tag that once read $30,000 is now affordable for almost all cowpokes at about $1200 -- make that $599 as Amazon has recently slashed the price on the 2nd Generation model. Called Cubify Cube 3D Printer,
it claims to work right out of the box, no user training required.
Granted, the original Liberator was made of plastic and wasn't heralded for its accuracy. There were people who tried to fire traditional ammo in the plastic gun with outcomes that were dangerously unsuccessful, but that was 2013 and technology marches on. Defense Distributed now offers The Ghost Gunner
, "a small CNC milling machine that costs a mere $1200 and is capable of spitting out an aluminum lower receiver for an AR-15 rifle. This device allows people with no gunsmith training to assemble a working assault rifle at home with no licensing or serial number — and it’s completely legal." (ed note: legal for now anyway)
As you might imagine, the legal ramifications of printing your own weapons are staggering. The fact is that Americans create technology much faster than lawmakers can regulate it. Two years ago, the State Department ordered Cody Wilson
to remove the online plans he had posted. Those plans had been downloaded more than 100,000 times in only two days. 
The mind blowing possibilities of this new technology stand to change medicine, art, science, engineering, and well, just about every other area of our lives.
After you get past the novelty of printing your own cell phone case, shoes, toys, and gadgets, think about how a print-your-own-kidney could make those organ donation waiting lists obsolete. Wake Forest’s Institute for Regenerative Medicine is working on that solution right now, using a small tissue sample from the patient to “seed” the printer. The printing process currently takes about 7 hours, but 7 hours vs. unknown months of waiting for a new kidney? No brainer.
Let’s hope somebody somewhere is working overtime to figure out a way hackers can’t get into these 3D software programs.
The software for printing your own gun? You’ll have to talk to Cody about that. In the meantime, you could check out the 3D Printing (For Dummies), no kidding.
And investment opportunities? Our money is on this new technology.
 Computer World, Lucas Mearian, July 7, 2015. "U.S. State Department moves to block 3D-printed gun plans online"
 Natural News, Rhonda Burns, August 12, 2013. "The New John Waynes and Their 3D Printers"
 Wired.com, Andy Greenberg, June 11, 2015. "Feds Tighten Restrictions on 3-D Printed Gun Files Online"