3D-printed guns in Asia

by Chris Zappone

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I don’t imagine that is something we will see anytime soon. But the response to the recent arrest of Yoshitomo Imura in Japan over the suspected printing of the Defense Distributed gun plans raises an interesting question about the future of 3D printing in Asia.

Japanese Justice Minister Sadakazu Tanigaki is quoted in the Japan Times expressing concerns that tightened laws around 3D-printed guns could hobble the nascent 3D-printing industry.

“There may be discussions in favor of strengthening the regulations concerned, but there also will be problems in ensuring the country’s technological and industrial advancement,” he said.

Whether a similiar view will be taken in more authoritarian Asian nations remains to be seen. In countries where human rights are weak and support for leaders brittle, the prospect of citizens printing themselves guns, or other items useful in protest could become a challenge for the governments.

Also, the utility of 3D printing may not be as clear.

The recent example of the Chinese company that has mastered a new method of 3D printing homes comes to mind. Judging by the examples online, they don’t seem to have a great deal of customization, even as the company pledges to build 100 factories. That use would be more consistent with mass manufacturing that’s driven China’s development.

Image: Courtesy V&A Museum