3D printing explosion

Seems like everyone's talking about 3D printing lately. For the first time, I'm actually tempted to buy a 3D printer, though I don't think the technology is quite where I would want it to be yet.

A couple of recent links:

Also, Shapeways lets people sell all sorts of awesome 3D-printed stuff, including a bunch of cool art and toys. You can even buy downloadable plans for stuff to print at home.

But as 3D printers get better, they'll also enable other uses. In particular, it's now possible to use one to print the lower receiver of a gun. That's not (yet) an entire gun, and so far the printed receiver doesn't work all that well. But 3D printers are getting better fast. Ten years from now, I suspect it will be very easy for people to print most of the important parts of a working gun at home.

Here's where I, as the blogger writing about this, am supposed to make a big philosophical statement, or present a plan for how to stop something like this from happening, or something. But I don't have any statements or plans about this. I think 3D printing is going to change the world in a variety of ways, big and small, and I think the ability to print weapons at home is one of those ways. I find the prospect scary, but I think it's inevitable.

So while we're pointing to nifty food and gadgets and awesome makers, I wanted to pause to note that, as Gibson told us thirty years ago, the street finds its own uses for technology.

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