The risks and rules of 3D printing

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Sarah McPhee
(Australian Associated Press)

CURRENT LEGISLATION

* It’s illegal across Australia to make a gun without a licence

* But it’s not an offence to possess or use a 3D printer

* NSW in 2015 became the first state to criminalise possessing instructions on how to build a gun using a 3D printer
WHAT IS A 3D-PRINTED WEAPON?

* 3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, involves depositing layers of material to build an object

* Instructions on how to make a single-shot firearm out of 3D plastic parts were posted online in 2013 with more than 100,000 downloads worldwide before the US government ordered their removal

* The weapons are deemed “undetectable and untraceable” because they aren’t metal and don’t have serial numbers

* NSW Police say the weapons can kill and users are at risk because they can explode

 
RECENT AUSTRALIAN INCIDENTS

* March 2017 – Sci-fi fan Sicen Sun, 27, was charged with making four 3D firearms at a Sydney unit after he allegedly tried to sell one online for $1 million

* December 2016 – Accused Melbourne drug kingpin Francesco Molinaro was arrested after police allegedly uncovered 3D printers and 3D-printed weapons in his home

* May 2016 – Victoria Police seize firearm manufacturing equipment including 3D printers when arresting two men and a woman in Seabrook

* December 2015 – Alleged Lone Wolves bikie gang member Luke McNally charged after Queensland Police find a loaded 3D-printed gun in the bedroom of a Mudgeeraba property

* February 2015 – Police unearth enough 3D-printed gun parts to make up to “four considerable firearms” at a Gold Coast property
WHAT’S THE RISK?

* Experts say the current threat of 3D printing of firearms is low and the production method is unlikely to be a significant source of illicit weapons because the technology doesn’t match the reliability of factory-produced guns

* They say the threat is likely to increase when the technology improves and printers become more affordable

Source: Illicit Firearms in Australia – ACIC 2015-16 report; Weapons Prohibition Act 1998 (NSW); NSW Police.

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