The 3D weapons will likely be com­mer­cialised fastest in In­dia. What we need to un­der­stand is that In­dia has to fight ter­ror by it­self.


Aday af­ter Manch­ester based Eng­land com­pany Tami­care an­nounced it has de­vel­oped tech­nol­ogy to pro­duce dis­pos­able panties, sports­wear and ban­dages with 3D tech­nol­ogy, me­dia re­ported on Novem­ber 11, 2013, that Texas com­pany Solid Con­cepts has made the first metal gun us­ing a 3D printer, tak­ing the abil­ity to cre­ate one’s own firearms to a new level.

The com­pany claims to have fired 50 bul­lets from this gun, some hit­ting the bulls­eye over 30 yards. The weapon built from 33 mostly stain­less-steel parts and a carbon-fi­bre hand­grip is re­port­edly copy of the Brown­ing hand­made pis­tol used in the Philip­pines-Amer­i­can War. Ear­lier on May 8 this year, The Mail printed the first plas­tic gun in UK, ca­pa­ble of fir­ing a live round, us­ing a 3D printer cost­ing £1,700 and then took it on board a fully packed Eurostar train on May 10, 2013, with­out be­ing stopped pass­ing through tight se­cu­rity.

Sig­nif­i­cantly, The Mail ac­knowl­edged they pro­duced the weapon from blue­prints avail­able on the in­ter­net and then two re­porters passed com­pletely un­chal­lenged through strict air­port-style se­cu­rity to carry the gun on to a Lon­don to Paris ser­vice in the weekend rush hour, along­side hun­dreds of un­sus­pect­ing trav­ellers. Once on board the packed Eurostar train, they were able to as­sem­ble the pieces to cre­ate a fully func­tional firearm, and pose for pic­tures close to un­sus­pect­ing pas­sen­gers. Be­cause all parts of the weapon are plas­tic, they did not trig­ger the metal de­tec­tors.

The weapon is named ‘Lib­er­a­tor’ – a 16-part pis­tol cre­ated from de­signs from the In­ter­net. In­ter­est­ingly, the de­signs were orig­i­nally pub­lished by an Amer­i­can univer­sity stu­dent, who proved the tri­umph of th­ese de­signs by suc­cess­fully fir­ing a bul­let on the shoot­ing range. The blue­prints were re­port­edly down­loaded more than 1,00,000 times be­fore the US State Depart­ment or­dered the con­cerned com­pany to re­move it from their web­site. How­ever, the de­signs are now freely cir­cu­lat­ing on the In­ter­net by those who had al­ready down­loaded the blue­prints. Since the pis­tol parts are en­tirely plas­tic ex­cept for a small fir­ing pin and am­mu­ni­tion, the gun presents a huge se­cu­rity prob­lem world­wide as it can be bro­ken down into parts that do not set off metal de­tec­tors and may not show up on con­ven­tional body and bag scan­ning de­vices, as demon­strated by the re­porters who boarded the Eurostar train from Lon­don to Paris from St Pan­cras In­ter­na­tional Sta­tion al­beit the fir­ing pin and bul­lets were de­lib­er­ately not car­ried.

The first work­ing 3D printer was cre­ated in 1984 by Chuck Hull of 3D Sys­tems Cor­po­ra­tion. 3D print­ing is a process of mak­ing a three di­men­sional solid ob­ject of any shape from a ‘dig­i­tal model’. This is achieved by lay­ing suc­ces­sive lay­ers of ma­te­rial in dif­fer­ent shapes – termed ‘ad­di­tive process’. Global mar­ket of 3D prin­ters and ser­vices in 2012 was es­ti­mated at $2.2 bil­lion. 3D prin­ters are avail­able online and In­dian firms too are sell­ing th­ese.

Sig­nif­i­cantly, the Lib­er­a­tor costs just $25 if you have the 3D printer. Solid Con­cepts that has pro­duced the first metal gun us­ing the 3D printer that it can­not be ac­quired us­ing a desk­top 3D printer and that they had used a spe­cialised high-end 3D printer whose cost would be out of reach of most peo­ple. How­ever, use of the term “most peo­ple” by it­self blows the cover of any ves­tige of se­cu­rity. Ter­ror­ists or­gan­i­sa­tions are mostly linked with drug and other mafia with no dearth of funds be­sides prices of what are con­sid­ered high-end 3D prin­ters will come down with com­mer­cial­i­sa­tion. As to avail­abil­ity, it is axiomatic that a 3D printer that can pro­duce a weapon (plas­tic or metal) would re­main on sale be­cause of mul­ti­ple ap­pli­ca­tions.

Then is the ques­tion of blue­prints – well a 16-yearold had made a nu­clear de­vice some 30 years back learn­ing how to do it from the In­ter­net. In­dia needs to take note. Ja­son Overdof and Poh Si Teng in their spe­cial re­port dated De­cem­ber 21, 2010, in glob­alpost re­ported that of the 75 mil­lion il­le­gal weapons in the world, 40 mil­lion are cir­cu­lat­ing in In­dia.

More sig­nif­i­cant is the re­port by Man­imugdha S. Sharma in The Eco­nomic Times dated Novem­ber 25, 2013, as per which AK-47 and AK-74 as­sault ri­fles can be pro­cured from Gaf­far Mar­ket in Delhi’s Karol Bagh re­tail mar­ket­place, for any­thing be­tween ` 60,000 and ` 5 lakh, de­pend­ing on the orig­i­nal­ity of the weapon. Knock-offs are cheaper and usu­ally orig­i­nate in Hun­gary, Bul­garia, Pak­istan or China. The 3D weapons will likely be com­mer­cialised fastest in In­dia. What we need to un­der­stand is that In­dia has to fight ter­ror by it­self. Ash­ley Tel­lis of the Carnegie Foun­da­tion has no hes­i­ta­tion in say­ing, “In­dia be­ing con­tin­u­ously sub­jected to ter­ror ac­tu­ally suits many....In­dia is a sponge that ab­sorbs global ter­ror.” The views ex­pressed herein are the per­sonal views of the au­thor.

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