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MakerBot Deletes AR-15 Rifle 3D Blueprints

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 26 comments

3D printer maker MakerBot quietly deleted blueprints for the lower receiver of the AR-15 assault rifle.

While it is just part of the rifle, based on a design posted on cncguns.com, U.S. law considers the lower receiver to be a weapon. MakerBot only deleted the pointer files, but left the description and comments of the submission intact.

It is interesting to note that MakerBot said in February of this year that it would not allow printer files that could contribute to the creation of weapons. In a statement, a MakerBot spokesperson told Cnet:

"MakerBot's focus is to empower the creative process and make things for good. MakerBot Desktop 3D Printers make innovative products, new tools, models, fashion items, works of art, and 3D things of all types. MakerBot's Thingiverse website is designed to be the best place to get and share downloadable 3D "Things." Thingiverse's Terms of Service state that users agree not to use Thingiverse "to collect, upload, transmit, display, or distribute any User Content (ii) that...promotes illegal activities or contributes to the creation of weapons, illegal materials or is otherwise objectionable." If an item has been removed, it is because it violates the Thingiverse Terms of Service."

As it is the case with every other website, MakerBot said that it reserves the right to remove user content, if it violates its terms of service. MakerBot's attorney stated that the recent violent events convinced the company to take immediate action.

A recent demonstration showed that the 3D-printed part may not be a replacement of the original part, but it is good enough to hold up for a few shots.

Thingiverse Reinforced AR Lower Test


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  • 0 Hide
    halcyon , December 21, 2012 2:08 AM
    Smart move.
  • -5 Hide
    Anonymous , December 21, 2012 2:16 AM
    They want to avoid lawsuits in case some nut uses their prints to manufacture a weapon and commits a criem with it. NOt patriotic but then businesses are all about profits and selfish greed for the owners and not patriotism and the Bill of Rights. It's up to individuals to protect our rights—no one else will. especially this administration.
  • 5 Hide
    A Bad Day , December 21, 2012 2:23 AM
    I bet someone at the Department of Defense wanted the blueprint. Some might say that because the rifle broke after a few shots, 3D printing rifles are useless.

    10-20 years from now, 3D printers will be able to use different materials.
  • 9 Hide
    sacre , December 21, 2012 2:30 AM
    This looks like the future fella's. Instead of crafting through forging and whatnot, we can have a printer use a synthetic material and create a weapon or a part for a vehicle, etc, right on the spot.

    --right on the spot--

    Thats what amazes me. Go to a car shop and ask for a part, if it ain't in stock pay an extra 5% and get it made on the spot for you.

    We just have to come up with better materials the printer can work with. Stronger materials.

    Man i want a 3d printer..
  • 5 Hide
    fuzzion , December 21, 2012 3:05 AM
    Let me tell you whats on the inside. This AR is one of many blueprints available for guns. They have now entered the torrent stream and can literally be downloaded as we speak. Welcome to the future.
  • 2 Hide
    A Bad Day , December 21, 2012 3:09 AM
    sacreThis looks like the future fella's. Instead of crafting through forging and whatnot, we can have a printer use a synthetic material and create a weapon or a part for a vehicle, etc, right on the spot. --right on the spot--Thats what amazes me. Go to a car shop and ask for a part, if it ain't in stock pay an extra 5% and get it made on the spot for you. We just have to come up with better materials the printer can work with. Stronger materials. Man i want a 3d printer..


    I think Officemax or Stapes have plans of starting a 3D printing service (and using a 3D printer company to do the printing jobs). Upload files, pay the charges and then wait for the shipment.
  • 4 Hide
    InvalidError , December 21, 2012 4:13 AM
    A Bad Day10-20 years from now, 3D printers will be able to use different materials.

    What would those other materials be?

    There already are 3D printers capable of working with powdered metals but you can imagine that fusing metal layer-by-layer is a far slower, more energy-intensive and more expensive process. There are also companies working on "printers" capable of printing small buildings (like homes) out of concrete.

    The limits of 3D printing today already extend far beyond low-temperature polymers/plastics if you can afford the patience and cost.
  • 9 Hide
    loomis86 , December 21, 2012 4:13 AM
    The problem with this article is...no one understands American gun laws. The people commenting here do not get it. The AR rifle is a unique firearm in that the BATFE has designated the lower receiver as "the firearm" and all other parts are merely mechanical parts. Only the lower receiver has a serial number on it. It is also unique because the part of the gun that is designated as "the firearm" does not withstand any forces of combustion or ballistics. Look at the pic. See that light blue part? That is the ONLY part that is 3D printed. The rest of it is mail ordered as non-firearm parts.

    Let me state it another way...THIS IS THE ONLY firearm in America which can be produced via 3D printing because it is the only firearm with the unusual BATFE ruling that states the lower receiver is "the firearm".

    In europe, they designate the barrel as "the firearm", and all other parts are merely parts. You can't print a barrel via 3D printing and expect it to function.
  • -1 Hide
    A Bad Day , December 21, 2012 4:18 AM
    InvalidErrorWhat would those other materials be?There already are 3D printers capable of working with powdered metals but you can imagine that fusing metal layer-by-layer is a far slower, more energy-intensive and more expensive process. There are also companies working on "printers" capable of printing small buildings (like homes) out of concrete.The limits of 3D printing today already extend far beyond low-temperature polymers/plastics if you can afford the patience and cost.


    It's kinda hard to predict 1-2 decades into the future. Nobody predicted the iPhone back in 1995.
  • 4 Hide
    acadia11 , December 21, 2012 4:19 AM
    Replicator!
  • 3 Hide
    tokencode , December 21, 2012 5:17 AM
    InvalidErrorWhat would those other materials be?There already are 3D printers capable of working with powdered metals but you can imagine that fusing metal layer-by-layer is a far slower, more energy-intensive and more expensive process. There are also companies working on "printers" capable of printing small buildings (like homes) out of concrete.The limits of 3D printing today already extend far beyond low-temperature polymers/plastics if you can afford the patience and cost.



    Absolutely correct, some on-line 3D printing companies already off stainless steel as a printing material. 3d printing isn't the only way to manufacture some of these parts either, simply get yourself a block of forged steel and a C&C machine and you can create stuff just a durable as the original. Someone is creating these parts some how. While it might be harder than printing plastic figurines, is not rocket science..
  • 3 Hide
    cdburner5911 , December 21, 2012 5:24 AM
    loomis86The problem with this article is...no one understands American gun laws. The people commenting here do not get it. The AR rifle is a unique firearm in that the BATFE has designated the lower receiver as "the firearm" and all other parts are merely mechanical parts. Only the lower receiver has a serial number on it. It is also unique because the part of the gun that is designated as "the firearm" does not withstand any forces of combustion or ballistics. Look at the pic. See that light blue part? That is the ONLY part that is 3D printed. The rest of it is mail ordered as non-firearm parts.
    Let me state it another way...THIS IS THE ONLY firearm in America which can be produced via 3D printing because it is the only firearm with the unusual BATFE ruling that states the lower receiver is "the firearm".
    In europe, they designate the barrel as "the firearm", and all other parts are merely parts. You can't print a barrel via 3D printing and expect it to function.


    well, that is partially true (to my understanding). All guns have some form of "receiver" and that is always considered "the gun". So for a 1911 its the frame (i am pretty sure), for an AK it is the folded sheet metal body, for a bolt action rifle, it is the ting the bolt goes into. that's why you can buy "demilled machine guns" that are all functional, except 2 torch cuts through the receiver. that is also why you can buy an "80% receiver" (legally considered a hunk of metal) and with minimal machining knowledge, make a "gun"
    and yes, the gun laws in the US are stupidly complicated!

    and sure, prototype 1 of the printed receiver failed, but i can think of 2 easy modifications that would make it far more resilient, and I'm sure they are already hard at work making it stronger.

    and heck, if they had access to a metal sintering machine that did stainless steel, they would be already done...
  • 1 Hide
    cdburner5911 , December 21, 2012 5:32 AM
    cdburner5911well, that is partially true (to my understanding). All guns have some form of "receiver" and that is always considered "the gun". So for a 1911 its the frame (i am pretty sure), for an AK it is the folded sheet metal body, for a bolt action rifle, it is the ting the bolt goes into. that's why you can buy "demilled machine guns" that are all functional, except 2 torch cuts through the receiver. that is also why you can buy an "80% receiver" (legally considered a hunk of metal) and with minimal machining knowledge, make a "gun"and yes, the gun laws in the US are stupidly complicated!and sure, prototype 1 of the printed receiver failed, but i can think of 2 easy modifications that would make it far more resilient, and I'm sure they are already hard at work making it stronger.and heck, if they had access to a metal sintering machine that did stainless steel, they would be already done...

    hmm, just realized i totally read your post wrong =[
    the lower only has to deal with the recoil forces, which were apparently too much for the resin it was printed with
  • 1 Hide
    razor512 , December 21, 2012 6:00 AM
    the plastic that the 3d printer uses is hard to a point that it is brittle that is why it breaks so easily. (if you look at most plastic designed to handle some impact, high speed footage will show the plastic flex or even ripple when hit or dropped, but you will not be able to see this with a 3d printed object, it will remain rigid.

    Because of that, items need to be designed differently.

    The density must be taken into account and a 3D model and computer aided impact simulation must be conducted to find the fail points and then it must be altered to reinforce the fail points. if done properly, it should handle more shots but even then, it wont handle more than 6 or 7 shots. and considering the price of the plastic used in the 3D printer, it is cheaper to just buy the real gun part.

    PS an interesting thing if you have access to some dentist tools, the high frequency tools designed to break up plaque can also damage plastic parts made with a 3D printer.

    All in all, the current materials suck and are only useful for making mockups that can be passed around but never truly used.
  • 3 Hide
    npcomplete , December 21, 2012 7:22 AM
    There should be a marketplace or blueprint sharing site that does not get so easily scared and reactionary. According to their TOS, anything "objectionable" is fair game for removal. That can mean anything. Of course, every site uses that language or outright states they can remove anything for any reason, as is their right.

    But I wish there was a site that stated they will not remove, and that users are responsible for any legal implications or liabilities, and to treat it like a contract, where if they did remove something that wasn't illegal, they would compensate the user. It sets these freedoms in stone for the user and allows the hosting service plausible deniability. Then when someone makes a fuss, they can just point to the terms and say, "Hey our hands are tied for existing users, since we would be paying a fine according to these arbitration agreements"
  • 2 Hide
    mpdugas , December 21, 2012 9:54 AM
    It's too bad that all of this legitimate concern over the sadness surrounding the deaths of so many innocent children avoids the real core of concern: the terrible state of care for the mentally ill.

    Here in Texas, it takes a parent ten years to get their child seen by MHMRA; and that is due to gross lack of funding.

    Who resists paying taxes the most? Only those who have the very most material privileges.

    Those who won't pay taxes to the country whose laws shelter and protect them are the real culprits....it's a complex issue.

    But one thing is certain: Greed kills.
  • 1 Hide
    warezme , December 21, 2012 11:54 AM
    Good, those things don't need to be up there. I have a Replicator 2 coming in soon and I don't want some bureaucrat or government agency scrutinizing a legitimate design tool because some fools want to be cute and print gun parts.
  • 1 Hide
    dingo07 , December 21, 2012 1:09 PM
    @npcomplete - that will not work because of the way IP addresses are distributed... there's absolutely no way to tie Someone to an IP address, it's the same as tying someone to a home phone (land-line) number and has already been proven in court.
  • 2 Hide
    unoriginal1 , December 21, 2012 1:58 PM
    mpdugasIt's too bad that all of this legitimate concern over the sadness surrounding the deaths of so many innocent children avoids the real core of concern: the terrible state of care for the mentally ill.Here in Texas, it takes a parent ten years to get their child seen by MHMRA; and that is due to gross lack of funding.Who resists paying taxes the most? Only those who have the very most material privileges.Those who won't pay taxes to the country whose laws shelter and protect them are the real culprits....it's a complex issue.But one thing is certain: Greed kills.

    THANK GOD somebody gets it...... Ive been sick of hearing about control guns control guns.
    Dumb... Naive people... People that are sick will find another way. Then what? Outlaw fertilizer, knives, hammers w/e their next weapon of choice is? Thank you for having some common sense. It's much to lacking into today's society. (especially in America) Sad to say that being an American :/ .
  • 3 Hide
    fimbulvinter , December 21, 2012 2:00 PM
    A Bad DayIt's kinda hard to predict 1-2 decades into the future. Nobody predicted the iPhone back in 1995.


    A touch interface productivity device? Star Trek totally did.
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