A Wisconsin engineer was able to create a working, plastic gun from scratch using a 3D printer, nail and household screws.
Blueprints for the gun, named the “Liberator,” were made available online by open-source website Defense Distributed and cost only $25. The gun has been tested and has successfully fired nine .38 caliber bullets.
The new technology allows anyone with a 3D printer to make the materials needed. The printers, which range in price from $500 to $8,000, have the ability to create a three-dimensional, tangible product from only digital designs.
The engineer, known as Joe, says that he gun could potentially shoot a great amount of bullets, but the barrel would have to be replaced between shots.
The first designs were tested in April, and the success of the model led the U.S. State Department ordering the website to take down the plans because they violate export regulations.
The danger of the “Liberator” model was demonstrated by two European journalists, who decided to smuggle the gun onto a busy, rush-hour Eurostar train travelling from London to Paris.
They made the gun in 36 hours, using a moderately priced 3D printer purchased online. Then, the journalists disassembled the gun and were able to pass through Eurostar Security, which is similar to American airport security, completely undetected because the gun was made entirely of plastic.
Once aboard the train they were able to assemble the gun in 30 seconds, and took photos of them with the gun passing by unsuspecting passengers during the trip. For safety and legal reasons, they did not bring bullets, although they could be easily concealed in luggage because of the small size.
Security experts and politicians abroad were greatly disturbed about the implications of this new technology, and are now considering greater security measures that would be able to detect weapons such as this.
“These weapons are extremely dangerous because they are very difficult to detect with the methods we normally use. This is going to be a real problem, no doubt about it. People are going to have to rethink whether we need more checks,” said Lord West, the former Labour security Minister in England.