Wednesday, August 10, 2016

This is NOT a 3D printed gun

EVERYONE PANIC! Someone tried sneaking a 3D printed gun on an airplane. But thank goodness, the TSA caught them first. Everyone with a 3D printer, you'd better watch out.

Actually, the TSA was pretty chill about the whole thing. They pick up a lot of guns, loaded and with ammo, but being 3D printed makes this note worthy enough to merit a press release.

Only problem, that's not a 3D printed gun. It looks like a gun, but it's got a number of points that kinda made me raise my eyebrow. Even the TSA press release call it a "realistic replica". They know it's fake, but there were a number of problems that are easy to spot.

For one thing, this is small and flimsy. Current successful projects to make 3D printed guns are big and clunky and often times rely on metal inserts. For instance check out the WashBear. Plastic is weaker than metal and bullets are explosions. A bullet fired from this thing might as well be set off by pounding on it with a hammer.

Secondly, how does the firing mechanism work? There doesn't look like there's room inside for a spring and I don't see a rubberband around there. There seems to be a screw holding something in place so maybe there is something there, but what? And how can that generate enough push to set off a firing pin? And how do you trigger it? Because this gun doesn't have a trigger, so do you just flick it back with your thumb and then release to shoot? That seems... less than effective.

So it's not a real gun, so that probably rules out nefarious purposes, probably. But that only raises more questions. For instance, with the live ammo, what was the goal and who was the person doing this? And who were they? All we know from the TSA is it was a male on a 5:30 flight who was wiling to leave the gun behind. This doesn't all make sense to me. I see a couple of possible scenarios:

  • Some designer is trying to build a compact 3D printed gun, printed a test, and took it on a flight to show it off to someone, and when they were caught with it left it behind because it was easy to print another one on the other end.
  • Someone wanted to actually pull some shenanagans and in the end would have at worst injured themselves, but most likely would have made a fool of themselves with an impotent toy.
  • Someone wanted to see just how undetectable a plastic gun would be going through airport security. For this purpose I would have contacted the TSA and told them ahead of time. I might have even made a video about it.
  • This is a publicity stunt by the TSA. If so it's as poorly constructed as the gun, but it already has people calling this fake "deadly" and "bad news".
I still want to know who was making this gun and why. Did they test fire it yet? How's the firing mechanism work? How is the barrel rotated? What printer was it printed on and what settings? I don't see this thing working, and yet here we are talking about it.

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