The Defense Distributed blog was updated over the weekend with a report on how the team had worked on creating an AR magazine out of plastic that wouldn't break under the intense heat and pressure put on it by firing 50 rounds. The team already ran into a few problems before when the lower on their rifle broke after only firing six shots. Later revisions of the lower proved to be more successful. The magazine faced similar hardships in its first iteration, but the latest iteration has improved tremendously.
Defense Distributed started the WikiWeapon project last year before anybody started to seriously talk about gun control. In a post-Sandy Hook world, however, the team will have to address concerns that arise from making a gun that out of plastic. The only response out of the team thus far is that they are going to continue with the project despite calls from lawmakers to reinstate the Undetectable Firearms Act.
Vice President Joe Biden will be delivering a recommendation on gun policy later this month, and it will probably include something about 3D printed guns. It will be interesting to see how the guys at Defense Distributed respond to any recommendation that their work be banned. The team will probably use the line they used at Christmas after the Sandy Hook tragedy reinitiated talks on gun control: "We continue to believe the future for human liberty is different from the “plans” and prescribed GDP tweaks of neoliberal baby boomers."
It might get ugly, but the future of 3D printing will be faced with these kinds of challenges. 3D printed guns won't be the only thing under fire as traditional manufacturing will start to target the technology when 3D printers become advanced and cheap enough to start eating away at their business. The next few years are probably going to be the most challenging that the 3D printing industry has ever seen its decades old existence.