This is the lower receiver of an AR-15 rifle, printed in fused plastic filament from a digital model that was, until this week, freely available for download on Thingiverse.

This part is significant because all other parts of the common rifle can be readily purchased in the open market.  A person who builds a working lower receiver has, in the eyes of the state, essentially built a working AR-15. It is legal to do so for personal use (at least under US law), but until lately the required tools, time, and talent put the project beyond the reach of most casual tinkerers.

The rise of desktop manufacturing, however, may be set to change all that. Recently, a 3D printed AR-15 lower receiver made of fused plastic filament was demonstrated to fire and cycle six times before breaking.

Andy Greenberg over at Forbes has the story on the removal of this model, and other key firearms-related physibles, from Thingiverse.  As of this writing, no official statement appears on either MakerBot’s or Thingiverse’s sites, though the action seems entirely consistent with Thingiverse’s established Terms of Use, which were updated following the the site’s first firearms controversy back in 2011 to include proscriptions against content that “contributes to the creation of weapons.”

Up to now, however, the policy has gone largely unenforced.

3D-Printing Firm Makerbot Cracks Down On Printable Gun Designs

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