from Land Destroyer
It was inevitable. A technology like 3D printing that essentially puts cheap labor, manufacturing, and retail all in the same place – upon one’s desktop – spells the absolute, utter and permanent end to the monopolies and unwarranted power and influence of the corporate-financier elite who have lorded over humanity since human civilization began – a permanent end the elite will fight against with the total summation of their ill-gotten power and influence.
The pretext being used to begin this war, is a 3D printed gun built and demonstrated by Defense Distributed in Austin, Texas. After designing, printing out, and firing the 3D printed gun, the US State Department demanded that the designs, distributed for free on the Internet, be taken down – claiming tenuously that by posting the designs on the Internet, arms export bans may have been violated – this the same government that is on record, openly shipping arms, cash, and military equipment to its own listed terrorist organizations from the Mujahedeen e-Khalq (MEK or MKO) in Iraq and Iran, to the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) in Libya, to Al Qaeda’s Syrian franchise,Jabhat al-Nusra.
In the Independent’s article, “US government orders Cody Wilson and Defense Distributed to remove blueprint for 3D-printed handgun from the web,” it’s reported that:
The US government has demanded the removal of online files which allow users to 3D-print their own unregistered gun at home.
The blueprint has so far been downloaded more than 100,000 times since Defense Distributed – which spent a year designing the “Liberator” handgun – made it available online.
Last week Defense Distributed built the gun from plastic on an industrial 3D printer bought on eBay for $8,000 (£5,140), and fired it.
The Office of Defense Trade Controls Compliance wrote to the company’s founder Cody Wilson demanding the designs be “removed from public access” until he could prove he had not broken laws governing shipping weapons overseas.
3D Printing: The Sum of All Corporate-Fascist Fears
For several years now, buzz has been growing about 3D printing. Small companies have begun opening up around the world, selling 3D printers, or using 3D printers for small run production, filling niches, or shifting markets from large corporations and their globalized supply chains, to local, decentralized business models. While governments like those in China have embraced the technology and wholly encourage a grassroots, bottom-up industrial revolution, others, like the US have only feigned enthusiasm.
US President Barack Obama, in his 2013 State of the Union address, according to CNET’s “Here’s the 3D-printing institute in Obama’s State of the Union,” referred specifically to 3D printing, claiming:
After shedding jobs for more than 10 years, our manufacturers have added about 500,000 jobs over the past three. Caterpillar is bringing jobs back from Japan. Ford is bringing jobs back from Mexico. After locating plants in other countries like China, Intel is opening its most advanced plant right here at home. And this year, Apple will start making Macs in America again.
There are things we can do, right now, to accelerate this trend. Last year, we created our first manufacturing innovation institute in Youngstown, Ohio. A once-shuttered warehouse is now a state-of-the art lab where new workers are mastering the 3D printing that has the potential to revolutionize the way we make almost everything. There’s no reason this can’t happen in other towns.
Caterpillar, Ford, Intel, and Apple are large globalized monopolies – the personal manufacturing revolution would not see “state-of-the art labs” open up in towns across America to help augment the bottom lines of these Fortune 500 corporations, but would see decentralized alternatives to these corporations cut into and utterly gut their bottom lines – a reality US President Barack Obama and the corporate-financier interests that dictate his agenda must surely be aware of.
Image: Local Motors’ Rally Fighter vehicle. The unspoken fear the establishment holds regarding 3D printing and other forms of personal manufacturing is that their central globalized monopolies will be replaced by increasingly smaller, localized companies like Local Motors who already provides a model for “microfactories” and the localization of auto-manufacturing. Job creation, profits, wealth, power, and influence will be redistributed locally, not through government handouts, but by way of technology and local entrepreneurship – ending centuries of disparity between the people and the “elite.”
In the case of Ford and other big-auto giants, who by right should be shuttered and out of business already had it not been for their unwarranted influence and power buying them immense bailouts from America’s taxpayers, there are already alternative business models undermining their monopolies. In America itself, there is Local Motors who recently gave a short tour of their manufacturing facility they called a “microfactory.” These microfactorires represent the next step in industrialization where small companies will cater to smaller, local markets and niches, entirely replacing the centralized Fortune 500 corporations of Detroit, barely clinging to life and their unsustainable, antiquated business model as it is.
Video: Inside Local Motors’ Rally Fighter and open-source collaborative microfactory production.
The only conceivable means by which big-auto monopolies could hope to
survive is by having the same bought-and-paid for politicians it used to
bail its collapsed business model out with, impose sweeping regulations
to make it illegal for “microfactories” to operate. We can already
imagine, by extrapolating from the US State Department’s move against
Defense Distributed, the arguments that will be made. These will be
centered around “safety,” “taxation,” and perhaps even claims as bold as
threatening “jobs” of autoworkers at Fortune 500 monopolies.
Similar ploys are currently working their way through a legislative and
sociopolitical gauntlet in regards to the organic food movement.
In reality, whatever excuse the US government has made to take down the
first fully 3D printed gun’s CAD files from the Internet, it is fear of
lost hegemony that drives this burgeoning war on personal manufacturing.
James Ball of the Guardian, in an article titled, “US government attempts to stifle 3D-printer gun designs will ultimately fail,” predicts that:
This is a ban that’s going to be virtually impossible to enforce: as
almost any music company will testify, stopping online filesharing by
banning particular sites or devices is roughly akin to stopping a
tsunami with a bucket.
Another approach might be to attempt to ban
or regulate 3D printers themselves. To do so is to stifle a potentially
revolutionary technology in order to address a hypothetical risk – and
that’s even before the practical problems of defining a 3D printer for
the legislation. It would have to be defined broadly enough for a law to
be effective, but narrowly enough so that enforcing the law doesn’t
take out half of the equipment used in every day manufacturing. It is
likely a futile ambition.
Indeed – as a 3D printer is essentially nothing more than circuit
boards, stepper motors, and heating elements to melt and extrude layers
of plastic – it would be as impossible as it would be ridiculous to try
to stem the tide of 3D printing by regulating printers, as it will be to
attempt to regulate and ban any and all “prints” that threaten the
current establishment’s monopolies and hold on power.
Everyone is eventually going to have access to this technology and by
consequence, the ability to print out on their desktop what Fortune 500
corporations have held monopolies over for generations, including arms
manufacturing, automobiles, and electronics. The age of empire,
corporatism, and elitism is drawing to a close, but apparently not
without one last battle.
How to Win the Battle
While some may be paralyzed in fear over the prospect of their neighbor
one day having the ability to print out a fully functional weapon, it
must be realized that like all other prolific technologies, the fact
that it will be in “everyone’s” hands means that more good people than
bad will have access to it, and it will be in their collective interests
to create and maintain stability within any emerging technological
paradigm. Just like with information technology, where malicious
activity certainly exists, more people are interested in the smooth,
stable function of this technology in daily life and have created a
paradigm where disruptions happen, but life goes on.
People must embrace, not fear 3D printing. Key to its integration into
society is to ensure that as many people as possible understand it and
have access to it. This must be done as quickly as possible, to outpace
inevitable legislation that seeks to strangle this revolution in its
Education: We must learn as much about this technology as
possible. 3D printing incorporates skills in electronics, 3D design, and
material science. Developing skill-sets in any of these areas would be
beneficial. There are endless resources available online for free that
offer information and tutorials on how to develop these skills – just an
Internet search away.
Alternatively, for people curious about this technology and seeking to
get hands-on experience, they could seek out and visit their local
hackerspace (an extensive list of spaces can be found here).
Hackerspaces are essentially technological fitness clubs, where one
pays dues monthly for access to a space and the equipment within it to
work on projects either individually or in a collaborative effort.
Image: Cover of “Hackerspaces @ the_beginning,” which chronicles
the creation, challenges and successes of hackerspaces around the world.
The original file can be found here, and an online version can be viewed here, on Scribd.
Hackerspaces generally attract people with the necessary skill-sets to
assemble, use, and troubleshoot 3D printers currently on the market
today. They also possess the skill-sets needed to build 3D printers and
other computer-controlled manufacturing systems from parts that as of
yet have not been “regulated.” Generally, hackerspaces host monthly
workshops that help new people develop basic skills like soldering and
programming, or 3D design and even “builds” where purchased 3D printer
kits are constructed with the guidance of a resident expert. The
proliferation of this knowledge will make the already daunting task of
stripping personal manufacturing technology from the people, all but
Developing Local Institutions: It is essential to both expand
existing hackerspaces and their use of personal manufacturing
technology, as well as establish and build up new spaces. Ingraining
hackerspaces as essential local institutions in our communities is one
of the keys to heading off the coming war on personal manufacturing and
other disruptive technologies sure to gain the ire of legislators as
corporate-financier monopolies begin to suffer.
A place where people can go learn and use this technology, as well as
collaborate in its advancement will turn 3D printing and other
disruptive technologies from curiosities, into practical tools
communities can use to reinvigorate their local economies, solve local
problems, and overall improve their lives themselves, independently and
A hackerspace can start with something as simple as a single table with
several chairs around it and some shared equipment used during weekend
get-togethers with friends, and can develop into something as
significant as a full-fledged organization with hundreds of members and
For more information on existing hackerspaces, and inspiration for those seeking to start their own, please see: “Inspiration for Starting a Hackerspace.”
Ignoring and Circumventing Illegitimate Governments and Their Declarations:
As already cited, the US government is currently funding a myriad of
its own listed terrorist organizations to horrific effect from Iraq and
Iran, to Libya and Syria. To declare a 3D printed gun “outlawed” and its
presence on the Internet a “violation” of arms export laws, is as
hypocritical as it is illegitimate.
The government, in a free society, works for the people. The people have
not asked the government to ban 3D printed guns, just like they have
not asked for the myriad of laws the government is currently citing as
justification for its unilateral declaration. The government does not
dictate to the people what they can and cannot have or what they can and
cannot make. As such, we are not obligated to respect their
declarations in regards to 3D printing any more than we have
demonstrably respected their declarations regarding so-called “intellectual property.”
Just as file sharing continues unabated, while alternative media
supplants what is left of the corporate-media’s monopolies, a similar
paradigm must be developed and encouraged across the tech community in
regards to 3D printing, personal manufacturing, and other emerging
disruptive technologies such as synthetic biology.
Already, parallels are being drawn between 3D printing and the shifting
paradigms of information technology and file sharing. Whether or not the
average person joins in against the war on 3D printing and personal
manufacturing, the tech community will almost certainly continue on with
their success from the realm of shaping and moving information to the
world of shaping and moving atoms. However, for the average person
clearly aware that “something” is not quite right about where things in
general are going and who are seeking solutions, establishing local
institutions that leverage unprecedented technology to solve our
problems ourselves, without disingenuous politicians and their endless
schemes, seems like a sure choice.
There is already a burgeoning community of talented people working on
bringing this technology to its maturity and leveraging it for the
benefit of communities and individuals. If we are to ensure this
technology stays in the people’s hands and is used in the best interests
of the people, then as many of “the people’ as possible must get
Do some additional research into 3D printing, locate your local
hackerspace, and/or start a hackerspace of your own. Start looking into
buying or building a 3D printer and developing ideas on how to use this
technology both for education and for local, tangible development. The
future is what we make of it, and if we – with our own two hands – are
making nothing, we have no future.