When Cody Wilson revealed the world’s first fully 3-D printed gun last year, he showed that the “maker” movement has enabled anyone to create a working, lethal firearm with a click in the privacy of his or her garage. Now he’s moved on to a new form of digital DIY gunsmithing. And this time the results aren’t made of plastic. Wilson’s latest radically libertarian project is a PC-connected milling machine he calls the Ghost Gunner. Like any computer-numerically-controlled (or CNC) mill, the one-foot-cubed black box uses a drill bit mounted on a head that moves in three dimensions to automatically carve digitally-modeled shapes into polymer, wood or aluminum. But this CNC mill, sold by Wilson’s organization known as Defense Distributed for $1,200, is designed to create one object in particular: the component of an AR-15 rifle known as its lower receiver. That simple chunk of metal has become the epicenter of a gun control firestorm. A lower receiver is the body of the gun that connects its stock, barrel, magazine and other parts. As such, it’s also the rifle’s most regulated element. Mill your own lower receiver at home, however, and you can order the rest of the parts from online gun shops, creating a semi-automatic weapon with no serial number, obtained with no background check, no waiting period or other regulatory hurdles. http://www.wired.com/2014/10/cody-wilson-ghost-gunner/
Except if people with printers print out new printers for their friends & family, then the horses are firmly out of the barn. I think more about material inputs, myself. We live in a society drowning in cast-off objects of every variety. If we can build matter decompilers to turn those objects into feedstock for the printers, then we're cooking. At last year's Maker Faire Bre Pettis hinted at something like that in the works at MakerBot, but now that he's moved on who knows what will happen to that.
Me, I'd love to mine pure carbon from the atmosphere and spin it into graphene and carbon nanotubes and build whatever I want from there. Alas, I am several advanced degrees in chemistry and nanotechnology shy...