English: Colt AR-15 A3 Tactical Carbine. Used ...

A 3D printed AR-15 is in Defense Distributed Cody Wilson’s sights.

3D printer gunmaker Cody Wilson has been granted a license to manufacture and sell firearms by means of a 3D printer. We have previously reported on Wilson, a University of Texas law student who has previously offered free, downloadable plans to manufacture gun parts on 3D printers.

This is what Wilson had to say: “The big thing it allows me to do is that it makes me manufacture under the law – everything that manufacturers are allowed to do,’ said the 25-year-old founder of Defense Distributed. “I can sell some of the pieces that we’ve been making. I can do firearms transactions and transport.”

Wilson has said that he will hold off on distribution until he gains a license to manufacture and sell guns with greater firepower, like an AR-15. Wilson has already produced and demonstrated the lower firing mechanism for an AR-15 which was created using a 3D printer.

It remains to be seen whether Wilson’s initiative is a true operating company or merely providing the means to make a free speech argument. Remember there are no economies of scale when it comes to printing a 3D gun (or any other 3D printed item). Products products using molds enjoy economies of scale. That is, after the production of an expensive mold, the actual piece or item can cost just pennies each. Every item produced by a 3D printer is produced from scratch. Thus, each one costs the same to produce.  For this reason, it may not prove commercially feasible to produce 3D guns. The big risk here is that people who might not be able to acquire guns though legally sanctioned channels, will go ahead and download the plans to produce their own weapon.

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