Australian police from the New South Wales (NSW) Police Force have downloaded and 3D printed the Liberator gun to demonstrate its lethality to both the user and the target of the weapon.
NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione held a press conference to detail the findings of their experiments in creating the weapon using a readily available 3D printer that was bought for $1,700. They downloaded the blueprints for the Liberator gun and printed two weapons to test fire during their experiments.
“They are truly undetectedable, truly untraceable, cheap, easy to make”, NSW Police Commissioner Scipione.
They printed out 15 parts for each Liberator gun in around 27 hours and firearms experts assembled it within 60 seconds, using a firing pin fashioned from a steel nail. The two guns were test fired at close range into a block of resin material that is designed to simulate human muscle. The first bullet penetrated into the resin block up to 17 centimetres, which would be a fatal wound if fired into a person.
Although the first Liberator survived the firing, the second one didn’t. It suffered what Scipione dubbed “catastrophic failure”, with the plastic firing chamber and barrel exploding into several pieces. This would have caused severe injury to the person who fired the weapon.
The Commissioner warned of the danger to both the person firing the weapon and the person who the gun is aimed at, and added that they will never stop the spread of 3D printed guns but they can at least show how dangerous they are. He went on to say that his greatest concern is that someone who is just curious about the Liberator will 3D print one and then kill themselves when they try and fire the weapon.
“[3D-printed weapons] are truly undetectable, truly untraceable, cheap, easy to make. [This] weapon cost us $35 to make. We made that on a base entry level 3D printer. That printer cost us $1700. It truly is a home printer for so many people to make untraceable weapons. It is an emerging threat. They will kill.”, added NSW Commissioner Scipione.
It seems that the performance of the Liberator is very much dependant on the 3D printer and the material that is used when producing the weapon. The original, produced by Defense Destributed, was printed on a used $8,000 professional level machine and was successful fired. A version printed on a cheap LulzBot 3D printer using ABS plastic has already been shown to fire 9 times without any failures.
What we can say for certain is the designs for The Liberator will be improved upon by enterprising individuals across the world and it won’t be long before a reliable 3D printed gun is unleashed on the world. Then the authorities will be left with no option but to try and take some sort of action.