DIY Weapons: Start-Up Aims to Grow 3-D Gun Printing

Jahi Chikwendiu | The Washington Post | Getty Images

Printing guns is poised to go from a hobby to a business.

Cody Wilson, a 25-year-old University of Texas law student and founder of Defense Distributed—a nonprofit focused on providing templates for 3-D printable gun parts—is launching a start-up to build an open-source searchable database for 3-D printing models.

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The company will be hosted at, a spin-off of, and will make available 3-D printable files for parts of guns and other devices.

Three-dimensional printing, or additive manufacturing, uses a printer that builds products made of materials like plastic or metal layer by layer. Software is used to create the blueprint for the product and then the printer uses the template to print of an item.

Though DefCad is a for-profit company, maximizing profit is not its goal, according to its website.

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"DefCad stands against artificial scarcity, intellectual property, copyright, patentable objects and regulations in all its forms. If 3-D printing is going to be developed as a technology, then we need specific tools to help get around industry and the collusive members of the maker community," Wilson said in a promotional video posted Monday in which he made the announcement.

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Wilson also spoke at the technology conference SXSW in Austin, Texas, on Monday evening, saying that 3-D printing is going to be "meaningful technology" and that "printing guns is going to be a part of that."

DefCad is raising money for the database via its website. It has raised almost $13,000 of its $100,000 goal in just two days, and still has 28 days left.

Earlier this month, Defense Distributed posted a video that showed a gun firing more than 600 rounds. The lower half of the weapon was printed by a 3-D printer, indicating that the group is moving forward with its aim of printing an entire gun.

"Can 3-D printing be subversive? If it can, it will be because it allows us to make the important things. Not trinkets, not lawn gnomes, but the things that institutions and industries have an interest in keeping from us," Wilson said in his promo video. "Things like access, medical devices, drugs, goods, guns. DefCad will provide access with a view to these things, the important things and there will be no take-downs ever."