The RAND Corporation has published a paper discussing the threat of 3D-printed weapons and other items, which it argues could put global, national and personal security at risk.
The issue of 3D-printed weapons came to prominence in 2012, when Defense Distributed – a US-based group – announced that it would design a working gun which could be manufactured by anybody owning a 3D printer. After Defense Distributed posted its first blueprint for the gun online, the US Department of State demanded that it must be removed, although guns can still be printed using patterns lingering on file sharing websites.
Since then, the threat of such easily accessible and difficult to regulate firearms has been discussed in the US and elsewhere.
Now, a RAND Corporation paper, Additive Manufacturing in 2040: Powerful Enabler, Disruptive Threat, has laid out in detail the potential dangers of 3D printing, including its exploitation by military foes, extremists and street gangs. The growth of 3D printing could “significantly accelerate weapon proliferation and have dramatic effects on international conflict, violent extremism and even everyday crime,” the report said.