Deadly Weapons on Thingiverse

When we started Thingiverse we didn’t want there to be weapons on it, but there were a number of awesome toy weapons that blurred the line and so we changed the TOS to something more blurry and toy weapons carried on. In fact, if you shoot anything on Thingiverse fast enough, you could hurt someone. There have been a lot of things on Thingiverse that could be classified as weapons, but they could also be classified as toys. A miniature catapult is technically a siege weapon, but it could also be classified as a toy. To summarize, our weapons policy has been a blurry line.

Recently there has been a lot of discussion around guns since the lower arm of an AR-15 model went up on Thingiverse. It’s a beautiful model. It’s also the only part of the AR-15 that you can’t just mail order. It’s been possible and legal to make your own firearms since the beginning of the USA, but is Thingiverse the right place for deadly weapons?

We’re discussing this internally and we’re spending time exploring the legalities of firearms on Thingiverse. We want to make sure that Thingiverse can be accessed from schools and is student friendly and we are exploring the implications of weapons on Thingiverse for classrooms.

It’s a controversial subject. For myself, I get a lot of satisfaction from shooting guns in the woods at tin cans, but I also had my best childhood friend commit suicide with a gun he bought by routing around the registration process. I’m not convinced that 3D printing is easier than buying a gun illegally, but it does offer another avenue for weapons to enter the world. Will the next war be armed with 3D printers? One thing that’s for sure, the cat is out of the bag and that cat can be armed with guns made with printed parts.

Before we make a decision, I’d like to get the Thingiverse users’ feedback. We’re going to either change the terms of service or not, but we want to get your feedback before we make that decision.

On Thingiverse you’ll find a poll in the sidebar with three possible choices. Below the choices is a place for you to leave your comments. This poll can only be seen if you’re logged in. Each Thingiverse user can only vote once and once you’ve made your choice, the poll disappears. I hope you’ll take the time to tell us what kind of Thingiverse you want and use the comment section to tell us why.

53 Comments »

  1. Rich Said,

    October 3, 2011 @ 1:35 pm

    Personally, it does not affect me one way or the other if weapons are allowed on Thingiverse. I do however abhor the idea of excluding items based upon fear. Any replica uploaded to Thingiverse is an opportunity to learn about it. Weapons are marvels of engineering. I feel that understanding how they work will only lead to more responsible use.

    It is better to quench the curiosity with a printed replica than experimenting with the real thing.

  2. whosawhatsis? Said,

    October 3, 2011 @ 1:44 pm

    +1 Rich, well said.

  3. Tan Said,

    October 3, 2011 @ 1:47 pm

    Weapons are a turn off for me. If I were a school I’d run a mile from any website that shows you how to make a weapon. Your post is nicely considered. I’m new here and I know this will be a contentious debate – but I feel strongly enough about it to stick my head out and say ‘change the rules, if you want.’

  4. Splotchy Ink Said,

    October 3, 2011 @ 2:18 pm

    This is a very slippery slope, because I agree with the idea that Thingaverse ‘should’ be school accessable, and schools these days are just too frightened over the whole ‘weapons kill people’ even though kids will occasionally bring their little Transformer robot with plastic guns and so forth.

    I really don’t know how to mess with the rules, because I love the idea of being able to study these parts and so forth. I’d personally like to have it where you cant really print out a fully assembled fire arm, and yet being able to put up parts, like a better fitting plastic grip for a glock, or that little plastic peice that they attach to the end of magazines so that the gun will fit better in your hand.

    Me personally, I’d like to keep the rules as blurry as they are. Because anyone can distort the word “weapon” to mean pretty much anything.

  5. bob Said,

    October 3, 2011 @ 2:20 pm

    I believe that people that understand how firearms work are usually the most responsible and respectful of what they can do- (and practice proper safety)

    I don’t think there should be censorship for creative minds,

    and I tend to believe that the people that disrespect life enough to hurt others are more likely to buy or steal a weapon than to go through the many steps it would take to build, prototype, and test their own.

    I think anyone patient enough to attempt the process would be converted-

    (through failure, learning, and disappointment in their realizations of what can and cannot be done – which should give anyone enough time to see what is wrong with being such a hater)

    -into a social and frequent contributor of the thingiverse.

    at least I would hope so

  6. EvoGenius Said,

    October 3, 2011 @ 2:22 pm

    as long as 3D printers cannot print humans i would have to say we are safe for the time being as humans are the deadliest things on the planet.

  7. Dave Durant Said,

    October 3, 2011 @ 2:28 pm

    Having this poll active for people who registered today-or-before might be a good idea. That or think about adding that sorta filter to the results.

    Voted for moderation..

  8. ErikJDurwoodII Said,

    October 3, 2011 @ 3:01 pm

    I grew up in a household that had a strong respect for weaponry. My father was a veteran and champion marksman. I was educated on safety and the laws regarding weapons and never had or experienced an incident once. That being said, everyone’s situation is different and there is little that one can do to keep those with the intention to cause harm to get weapons in their hands. I feel strongly that all information should be accessible but not necessarily convenient. Could be a policy that toys and simple devices that demonstrate the mechanics of a weapon can be allowed and accessible to all. Uploads that tout compatibility with commercial registered deadly weapons like magazines, scope mounts and rifle stocks for example should have an age limit and possible deletion depending on how complete of an object it is (like a handgun that is totally printed except for certain heat-safe materials).

    Beyond that, I feel the community should have a way to report an upload that they deem too dangerous for general consumption and have trusted moderators decide if an upload needs an age-limit or removal.

  9. Astrida Said,

    October 3, 2011 @ 3:02 pm

    Thingiverse shouldn’t have to be responsible for the things people do with the designs provided. But we’re in the USA and inevitably there is a tendency to hold people responsible for the actions of others.

    Think about Walmart selling bullets but not guns. Either part does damage. And there has been hoopla about it… back and forth…

    At the same time– at some point in the future one might want to consider breaking out designs posted here for adults and children, and requiring a login of some kind for ‘adult designs’ (forgive the porn industry pun — but consider how many users have probably printed a penis because it was funny!).

    I think some kind of division would be important for the site to be continually usable to schools and other educational institutions. Or it may be simpler just to spin off a separate site for more controversial designs (and let someone else handle the responsibility for it). That last idea is what I’d do.

  10. Sam Kidman Said,

    October 3, 2011 @ 3:04 pm

    Things, are things. Any solid object can be used as a weapon, as stated above any bit of printed plastic could be used as a weapon. The person responsible for injury or damages caused by the “weapon” is the person in control of the weapon. Even intangible forces like electricity or laser light have a real potential for causing harm. Objects are not inherently evil. But there is a line, called local and international laws, that really should not be crossed if this community is to remain in the positive light of “makers” and not “potential criminals”. I voted for an open system, in the light that self censorship is preferable to moderation… If you have a thing that is “evil” then there are probably plenty of other places to share it than this open and very visible forum.

  11. Matt Said,

    October 3, 2011 @ 4:17 pm

    I think if you make Thingiverse a place that kids can access only kids will use it. Maybe not to that extreme, but think of all the questionable content on Thingiverse that isn’t a weapon (pink panther anyone?). I think instead of regulating Thingiverse create a second “filtered” site for schools to access. Preferably pass all of the obviously acceptable content on automatically.

  12. Noah Balmer Said,

    October 3, 2011 @ 4:22 pm

    +1 Rich. Most objects can be misused to someone’s detriment, and AR-15s can be used for good. In the world I want to live in, knowledge of how things are made and used is freely available.

  13. David Agnew Said,

    October 3, 2011 @ 5:32 pm

    I believe the issue of firearm models on thingiverse has two aspects, the philosophical and the practical.

    From a philosophical standpoint, all knowledge is good and can be used for good. Only improper misuse of knowledge can be bad, not the knowledge itself. I think it’s much more likely that a printed firearm could successfully scare off an attacker than one could be successfully used to harm someone else (because you really DON’T want to pull the trigger – see below). Knowledge is also very difficult to contain. If it isn’t made available here, it WILL be made available somewhere else, only possibly without the disclaimers and warnings necessary to help people safely use it for good (or decide to not use it).

    From a practical standpoint, until we start seeing much better home 3D printing technologies I don’t think we need to worry about anyone making a functional, effective, reliable firearm on a makerbot. 3D printed plastics are simply not up to the task. Theoretically you could produce some possibly adequate firearm components (though certainly not a firing chamber or barrel) using more advanced, and expensive, 3D printing technologies like direct metal laser sintering. However, purchasing such a 3D printing system is a LOT more expensive than simply purchasing the name brand firearm itself, and I personally wouldn’t trust a printed firearm even if it came from the best, most expensive system available.

    So we don’t really need to worry about 3D printing flooding the streets with printed firearms. The real risk is that some idiot might actually be foolish enough to try using a printed firearm and end up hurting them self. And idiots tend to hire lawyers to sue others for their own idiocy. I don’t know if a huge disclaimer against trying to use printed firearms would be enough to protect Thingiverse in that event.

  14. Shadyman Said,

    October 3, 2011 @ 5:41 pm

    Perhaps do something like YouTube does for “content inappropriate for under-18 audience”, and have you log in where your birthday is 18+.

    Easy to get around, yes, but it would prevent access from A) Non-registered users, and B) Registered users who are honest and under 18.

    Models could then be flagged as ‘inappropriate’, thus restricting them to 18+ only, or perhaps even removing them from the un-logged-in view?

    Just a few random (probably silly) thoughts.

  15. Mark Said,

    October 3, 2011 @ 5:47 pm

    All it takes is one bored asshole on cable news to write a story about the “online site where kids / terrorists can download detailed models and produce working copies of automatic weapons” to ruin this game for you. I like this site, even if I can’t download a gun.

    Another route: Isn’t an AR-15 patented? Does a model of one violate the terms and services anyway?

  16. Gus Said,

    October 3, 2011 @ 5:51 pm

    It is a very contentious issue and “liberty” or “freedom” get often toss around the debate together with “responsibility” and “accountability”.
    My opinion is that anything that one can make to make harder for anyone to get their hands on a weapon it is worth doing, even if it delays an accident or a crime by even a minute. Think about when you lock the door to your home, what you’re doing is not preventing a robbery but just making it that much harder and therefore unlikely.
    I am an engineer and I honestly admire the beauty of some weaponry but to me there is a very big leap between admiring the design and having a how-to on building weapons on a site where I am a member of.
    In this situation, to me, the freedom is for me to either be or not a part of a community that allows people easy access to weapons.
    I voted and I’ll watch for the outcome, if I don’t like it, then I’m free to go and so is everyone who doesn’t like the results.

  17. beak90 Said,

    October 3, 2011 @ 6:47 pm

    I also posted this response with my poll entry:
    I think anything that could be considered a weapon (even if it is clearly a toy) should go into an over 18 category. This seems to be the compromise to those who want weapons and those who don’t. This would most likely solve the problem of schools not having access to thingiverse. A more aggressive policy could also include deletion of deadly weapons or of weapons that are specifically designed to actually harm animate beings. I also think a slightly more careful policy about other questionable material should be added. For example thing #1216 should be put into an over 18 category to allow for young children access to thingiverse at school. Teenagers or others can always create a thingiverse account with a fake age to give themselves access, but if parents, educators, or the individuals themselves don’t want minors to have access to mature material then they should have the option of opting out. Parents might be worried about letting young children access thingiverse if there continues to be more somewhat questionable designs uploaded.
    I hope my ideas are considered in the creation of the new weapons (and hopefully over 18) policy.

  18. Bernard Roth Said,

    October 3, 2011 @ 7:26 pm

    Are 3D models dangerous? We can download the genome of cannabis too. Is this bad?

    I think when we start banning things we start down a road that is hard to come back from. Mentally ill people do bad things, it doesn’t mean everyone should suffer.

  19. Jay Dugger Said,

    October 3, 2011 @ 7:40 pm

    Filtering of any kind begins a slippery slope. If you pick “weaponry” as a category requiring someone to assert their age as 18 or greater or simply forbidden, then you’ve a way to do the same for any category. Standards vary from place to place and over time. Thingiverse might find itself in a similar debates over the hot-button topic de jour. I suggest you leave decisions of censorship to companies such as Websense.

    Anyone trying to print a complete firearm or knife from the materials commonly used by the Thingiverse user base will almost certainly not get a useful weapon.

    It concerns me more that Thingiverse seems more worried by its suitability for children than an increasingly general usefulness for the entire population. Certainly its operators can decide on what target market they wish to pursue. I wouldn’t care to use a “kid-safe and censor-approved” Thingiverse anymore than I now care to watch Sesame Street.

    As said before by Gus, and said well: “I voted and I’ll watch for the outcome, if I don’t like it, then I’m free to go and so is everyone who doesn’t like the results.”

  20. Chris Said,

    October 3, 2011 @ 7:47 pm

    There’s no end to legitimate weapon designs that could find great use and public benefit on Thingiverse. (For example, did you know people are just as likely to pepper spray themselves during self-defense?)

    However, there are two main issues:

    1) __Liability and Responsibility__
    The primary issue that I see is that liability and responsibility gets compounded the moment that designs become “lethal”. Poorly designed gun barrel could easily explode. A wrongly assembled switchblade could malfunction and cut a user’s hand. A badly printed slingshot could break and whip into the eyes. Court opinions just become more inflamed just because they’re “weapons”. However, this issue has always existed, however, no poorly designed extruder or heater board has set anyone’s house on fire yet (and I pray this never happens to anyone). I have no idea as to the current state of things, however Thingiverse should be legally prepared for these liability issues.

    2) __”Anarchist’s Cookbook” Situation__
    The other issue is the possibility of Thingiverse becoming flooded with “anarchist’s cookbook” type designs. (generally distasteful, probably poorly designed, and likely completely untested, dangerous fictional works). Besides the previously mentioned legal issues, I have faith that the community would be able to vote to identify these and place them into another category.

    __Potential Solution:__
    A “vote to categorize into separate section” by multiple members could probably be used to distinguish between home-printed AR-15 Magazines and home-printed zip guns. Access to the “separate section” could be somehow limited to schools & other populations, and items could be kept from appearing on the front page and “newest things”. Should an access-allowed member like to delve through the the “separate section” to find something useful, then the files are available. Perhaps a “voted as dangerous” counter for each design would also be useful.

    While not the only option, I believe community moderation is more discerning than a blanket ban. Alternatively, further action may not be necessary; Weapons have been allowed for quite some time, and Thingiverse is still far from an armory.

    Thanks for listening, Thingiverse.

  21. Marc O. Chouinard Said,

    October 3, 2011 @ 8:32 pm

    I agree some kind of ‘parental’ control need to be put in place… Now I really feel that we need a different domain name for both of them. A simple question for the age will defeat the purposes and teacher/school will just ‘ban’ the site altogether.

    I believe an thingiverse that is teacher moderated BUT both link to the same place for not having duplicate entry is the best solution. So either the adult only/dangerous be move to a different domain, or kid go to a different domain.

    I made for example an adaptor for air compressor.. Now by itself it not dangerous, but what if a kid make it with some change plug it in and some piece of plastic fly up and go in his eye… at 100psi it can be very dangerous. Now I think that design is good to have in general for doing quicky project BUT not to be available for kids.

    So in my view, it not just about guns… It about anything that a kids shouldn’t print OR a kids couldn’t understand.

    For example : thing:11764 and thing:11762 I personally love them, look cool… BUT not something you want kids to prints.

  22. Jballard Said,

    October 3, 2011 @ 8:51 pm

    I agree with what seams to be most of the people commenting here, they should be allowed, but there should be an option to filter put certain types of items.

    And this is coming from the guy who posted a couple of the items himself.

  23. Nicholas C Lewis Said,

    October 3, 2011 @ 9:26 pm

    I am torn between moderation and free-for-all. The same slippery slope that says “What is a weapon?” says “What should be in the 18+ area?” If your goal is to make schools and parents feel safe than a lot of things will get flagged as 18+ as it needs to go to the least common denominator. An interesting option to test the waters would be to add a flag to everything questionable and see how much ends up in that bucket.

    In a society where we have classic literature banned in many schools and students like this http://boingboing.net/2009/05/24/kid-keeping-a-lendin.html I wonder what the value of hiding knowledge from the people we are supposed to be educating actually teaches them.

  24. Zomboe Said,

    October 3, 2011 @ 9:33 pm

    I voted for moderation. I think an 18+ category should be created for everything that you don’t want kids to see. If anything, it will probably encourage more posting, since you wouldn’t need to ask “is this acceptable here?”

    More generally, Thingiverse is badly in need of better categories and/or filters, or at a bare minimum a search function that doesn’t suck. It is too easy for things to fall into the void after they scroll off of the first few pages.

    Are there any plans to reveal the total vote counts at the end of the poll? I am curious about the size of the active community.

  25. John Said,

    October 4, 2011 @ 2:08 am

    You might want to think wider than the US too, since it might be legal in the states, but may be illegal elsewhere, fairly sure the printing of that would be illegal in the uk.

  26. Mark Van den Borre Said,

    October 4, 2011 @ 2:58 am

    Thingiverse caters to a global audience. When making a decision on hosting weaponry designs, you might want to widen your perspective beyond the US to a global one. My guess is that following that rationale, thingiverse would end up with a fairly restrictive policy on printing weaponry.

  27. Peter Bindels Said,

    October 4, 2011 @ 5:37 am

    What happens if I make a model of Mohammed and put it on Thingiverse? It’s not against the US or in fact most other laws, but there are countries in which it’s forbidden.

  28. paul Said,

    October 4, 2011 @ 7:47 am

    My sense is that the weapon designs are there not so much for printing (they’re way huge for ordinary machines and wouldn’t work in common media) or even study but as political statements. So I don’t really have a problem with a decision to restrict them.

  29. E² Said,

    October 4, 2011 @ 8:10 am

    In order for Thingiverse to remain accessible from schools, it must be physically impossible to access adult content, which includes functional weaponry and build instructions. It is not enough to have this content merely sitting behind an over 18 click-through. This is why websites like Reddit are blocked on Megabus: it is impossible to separate out the adult content from the more general audience stuff by URL/IP alone. The goals of having a universally accessible, and wholly unmoderated thingiverse are mutually exclusive. There is a need for both types of website, but they must be hosted at different URLs and different IP addresses so that content filtering systems can tell the difference. Since the majority of work on Thingiverse is already school friendly, and adult content remains the in the strong minority, it is logical that Thingiverse should continue on as a school friendly version. Unfortunately, this mandates self censorship. Simultaneously, I advocate a more wild-west clone of thingiverse be created at a distinct serve, and advertised to the community.

  30. Hunter Said,

    October 4, 2011 @ 9:57 am

    Censorship seems to be a dangerous slippery slope to go down.

    If you take responsibility that your designs are safe I think you will wind up in a uncomfortable place when someone takes that nice Empire State Building and beans someone else over the head with it. I might even worry about the legal responsibility there given that you would have advertised the designs as “safe”… My point is where does it end? More questions and problems come from going down this path of good intentions than not.

    While we are censoring things, that Pentacle on the front page is looking pretty suspicious and I’m quite sure it is highly offensive/worrying to some. Again, where does it end?

  31. Dave Monachello Said,

    October 4, 2011 @ 10:00 am

    First off I appreciate you taking this issue seriously. I believe that weapons change the spirit and atmosphere of Thingiverse. I have to deal with these issues enough in the real world so when I used to come here to upload my latest 3d doodle and to look for ways of improving my printer it was all about having a nice escape from the real world issues of guns, violence, terrorism etc. I’m not the kind of person that sticks my head in the sand and ignores the real world but can’t we have a few places that are about art and fun/harmless hobbies? There are plenty of technically interesting objects. No one is being deprived of technical knowledge if an AK-47 is not posted here.

  32. Reid Said,

    October 4, 2011 @ 12:07 pm

    There’s a lot of fear and misinformation flying around, but at the end of it all I think the simplest solution would be to have a “Show flagged content” check box in the settings area of your account. Leave it off by default. This way, the people that choose to see adult-themed items can, and people that don’t, or weren’t aware of it, will not.

    Censorship is a very real – and very nasty – thing. Most of the time it is used as a fear response… I don’t like guns, so I don’t think anyone should ever have access to guns. However, as has been mentioned, this is a global website. Not everyone on the planet has the same opinion as me about everything. Rather than force my sensibilities on everyone else, why not give me – and them – the option to opt out.

    Using a “Questionable Content” tag that could be user added in the same way tags are currently handled would do the trick. I’m sure it would be used on occasion to hide items that most would not consider to be questionable as a joke or whatever, but since some Thingiverse citizens are calling for censorship anyway, this sounds like exactly what they are looking for.

    At the end of the day institutionalized censorship is usually a very bad thing, but self-censorship is something we all do, every day. We all have a limit to the amount of violence or gaudy reality TV we can stand, and choose not to watch them. Allowing us to hide or see some items makes everyone happy, aside from a vocal few who truly believe their own opinions should be applied to everyone… and unless those people are elected officials I am happy to ignore them.

    Obligatory xkcd reference: http://xkcd.com/154/

  33. sigstoat Said,

    October 4, 2011 @ 12:44 pm

    paul, there are plenty of pieces that could yet be designed/uploaded that will fit quite nicely in a 3D printer’s volume, and be useful despite their plastic manufacture. actually knowing something about firearms instead of just guessing wildly, all the pieces i’ve seen uploaded are working, or might be made to work with a few design/adjustment iterations and some creativity. they’re only political statements to people with no interest in them.

    david, one technically interesting object isn’t a substitute for all other technically interesting objects. if we just put one nice fancy jet turbine online, is that it, we’re done? no need for other stuff? why are your favorite technically interesting things more appropriate than mine?

    Mark, while IANAL, i’m pretty sure there are no patents or intellectual property concerns with regards to the AR-15′s design. it dates to the 60′s, was put out for bid by the US government, and is currently mass produced by dozens of vendors, hobbiests, etc. i’ve never heard of even the faintest whiff of legal challenge regarding it’s design or manufacture that didn’t come from the ATF. and, this stuff is already on the internet, and has been available at gun shows and gun stores around the country probably since the 70′s.

    where will you draw the line? if all firearms are unacceptable, how about all the pieces and parts necessary to construct a rifling machine? i can’t immediately think of any use for putting rifling in a tube except a gun barrel. if you’ve got real barrels, some sort of zip gun is about 5 minutes further along.

  34. Bob Cousins Said,

    October 4, 2011 @ 2:29 pm

    I’m confused by the choices. The first talks about “deadly weapons”, the second just “weapons”.

    Obviously weapons includes deadly weapons. But with option 1), will only deadly weapons be deleted, and other weapons remain, without age restriction?

  35. SangeliaStorck Said,

    October 4, 2011 @ 4:53 pm

    one forgets that anything CAN be used as a weapon. even those things that were not designed as such in the first place.
    as a student of bujitsu. I have learned that lil fact. and it is something that should never be forgotten.
    that makes anything here, including the machine that can create the wonderous stuff here, weapons.
    all we can hope for, is that those who do create anything, be it as a obvious weapon or not. that they only use such items in self defense or for hunting of food.
    that they do not instigate any incident that the items might be used for. as in delibertly harming a person just to harm or even kill that person.

  36. ArgoCapn Said,

    October 4, 2011 @ 7:22 pm

    I think it all boils down to the mission of Thingiverse. If that mission is to be a platform for free speech in 3 dimensions, then by all means keep the deadly weapons (if there really are any here) as well as the volumetric lewd gestures. But if the point is for people to share creations of art, intellectual curiosity, technical challenge, and real usefulness with the widest possible audience, perhaps the people who feel it necessary to post things here for no other purpose than to test the boundaries should take them elsewhere.

    I know few other people who would stand up for free speech and expression quicker than myself. And I don’t think there’s a snowflake’s chance in Hades that anything currently posted is really any more deadly than the Octocat. But given the current state of schools with their zero-tolerance policies and police-state mentalities, I think it’s very likely that schools, or the filtering services they are sometimes required to use would ban Thingiverse for a few plastic gun parts. And I think the cost of missing the opportunity to provide a resource for students far outweighs the rights of a few people to do little more than pee in the pool to give themselves a good chuckle.

    As far as drawing the line, that’s a little more difficult. If you agree with anything I’ve said above than the line is somewhere around where filtering services start banning things, which can be ridiculously stupid, but that’s life. I don’t think anyone of consequence will stop using the site because you deleted an accurate model of a piece of a weapon that’s banned in 48 states (fictional scenario).

    Just my $0.02. Thanks for going above and beyond by asking your audience/participants.

  37. Randy Said,

    October 5, 2011 @ 3:27 am

    Leave them, unless you’re determined to start censoring EVERYTHING that SOMEONE deems offensive in SOME country. I personally don’t have a problem with the firearms models, and have greater concerns with the demon that is currently popular, or the recently posted vulgar hand with a middle finger sticking out, or the various religious items (ie: the Darwin fish, which is an attack/counter on the Christian Ithicus), and as others mentioned, the risque Pink Panther.

    The weapon-phobes want to cite the poor children, and that we have to save them from themselves, but remain silent on all the other questionable things on Thingiverse (not to mention potential trademark and patent violations).

    Until homemade 3d printers are capable of printing metal barrels and chambers capable of withstanding firearm pressures, and can print bullet casings, inserting some plastic-gunpowder concoction inside, a “MODEL” of a weapon is just that. A model. Many people died on the Titanic, so should we remove the Titanic model? This censorship is rediculous, leave it alone.

    If you live in a country where possession of a digital file that contains a likeness of a weapon is illegal, then don’t hit “download”. But don’t try and restrict those of us who live in a country where freedom of expression is supposed to be an inalienable right.

  38. ERock Said,

    October 5, 2011 @ 5:12 am

    @Mark: By that global vision, by that definition, there would be a very restrictive policy on pretty much everything. http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:12167 and http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:8485 and anything that might be construed a religious symbol. http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:9972 could be removed because it’s a device designed to make “unauthorized” copies of objects, as well as unauthorized portrayals like this one http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:10650 . http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:1216 would be banned, as would http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:4920 . Even http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:11178 would be removed because some nations forbid their subjec– er, citizens, from knowing anything about democracy.

  39. JohnA. Said,

    October 5, 2011 @ 6:18 am

    The underlying question won’t be about weapons, but instead about classification. There absolutely will be other items uploaded to Thingiverse that should probably not be shared with school-age kids. There might even be a few things already, but we KNOW that there will be more, weapons or not.

    Lay the groundwork now for being able to categorize things into ‘Everyone’ vs. ’18+’ and I think the problem works itself out.

  40. George Frick Said,

    October 5, 2011 @ 8:53 am

    I believe all it takes it one stupid person with a lawyer, or one stupid reporter with a pen and it will get blown out of proportion and we may lose a great resource.
    I don’t disagree with any of the people arguing for freedom of information; I actually completely agree. However we have to face the realities of the world we live in and the normal means by which information travels.
    You are more likely to make the news over a negative incident than make the news because you can print parts to fix your child’s toys.
    They should at least be restricted to an 18 section and be required to have a clear label. Allowing us to flag something prohibited, best of, etc would help.

  41. ArgoCapn Said,

    October 5, 2011 @ 9:38 am

    I think it all boils down to the mission of Thingiverse. If that mission is to be a platform for free speech in 3 dimensions, then by all means keep the deadly weapons (if there really are any here) as well as the volumetric lewd gestures. But if the point is for people to share creations of art, intellectual curiosity, technical challenge, and real usefulness with the widest possible audience, perhaps the people who feel it necessary to post things here for no other purpose than to test the boundaries should take them elsewhere.

    I know few other people who would stand up for free speech and expression quicker than myself. And I don’t think there’s a snowflake’s chance in Hades that anything currently posted is really any more deadly than the Octocat. But given the current state of schools with their zero-tolerance policies and police-state mentalities, I think it’s very likely that schools, or the filtering services they are sometimes required to use would ban Thingiverse for a few plastic gun parts. And I think the cost of missing the opportunity to provide a resource for students far outweighs the rights of a few people to do little more than pee in the pool to give themselves a good chuckle.

    As far as drawing the line, that’s a little more difficult. If you agree with anything I’ve said above than the line is somewhere around where filtering services start banning things, which can be ridiculously stupid, but that’s life. I don’t think anyone of consequence will stop using the site because you deleted an accurate model of a piece of a weapon that’s banned in 48 states (fictional scenario).

    Just my $0.02. Thanks for going above and beyond by asking your audience/participants.

  42. Bob Cousins Said,

    October 5, 2011 @ 10:58 am

    And what about parts of weapons?

    I really would appreciate some clarification, I am tempted to just vote “NO” anyway. It seems like thingiverse are not really interested in their own poll.

  43. Jelle Said,

    October 5, 2011 @ 12:05 pm

    You recently deleted Joris’ ‘piemel’ which probably violated your prudish TOS. Personally, I think a display of tools for murder is way more obscene than whatever bodypart you can imagine.
    The only positive aspect of guns i can imagine is that its aficionados/owners nominate themselves pretty often for a Darwin award, which is good for mankind. I am not sure if that offsets the grief they cause though.

  44. J Said,

    October 5, 2011 @ 2:01 pm

    Anything that has the ability to kill a small animal (eg cat) with a single shot should be removed.

    If the user is not adapt enough to design and print their own, said user will have to accept the relevant gun laws of the country they reside in, in order to own such a weapon.

    For example, I designed a cross bow and a dart gun, both fire a modified 5″ nail with great accuracy and enough force that you need a claw hammer to remove it from a piece of hard wood. (who would like one?) I have no doubt that they would be downloaded and printed and cause someone serious physical damage, if hitting the right spot death. I will “never” upload them to the web. I believe and hope that anyone with the skill to design such things will be of such character that posting the design is not in line with being a good and just person.

    I think it is interesting that no “real weapons” like I have designed for my personal use have appeared on thingiverse and it testament to the good nature of people in this community who contain within them creation rather than destruction. :-)

    As far at the AR-15 goes that part is useless for anyone other then one who already owns the gun so I regard it is a safe print but one that does not really need to be on thingiverse.

  45. brianrowes Said,

    October 5, 2011 @ 7:48 pm

    I’m confused. Aren’t printers still in the hands of considerably less than 1% of the population. And aren’t half or so, of those people engineers and the like. And the rest CNC enthusiasts? I suppose my point is this stuff is not necessarily easily accessed, nor is it use-able by anyone who, if they wanted to put in the effort, could do it anyway. many guns are already pressed out of a single sheet, so anyone with a mill could make one. Or am I missing something here.

  46. brianrowes Said,

    October 5, 2011 @ 8:03 pm

    damn spell check
    was supposed to be “nor is it use-able by anyone who, if they wanted to put in the effort, couldnt do it anyway.”

  47. Dan Said,

    October 6, 2011 @ 7:05 am

    I know it is hard to believe but, there are intelligent gun/weapon owners out there. Don’t be so narrow minded to believe that just because you don’t own or fear weapons that anyone who owns them must have inferior intellect. I think we can all agree that a world without weapons would be a better place and that includes all government and military as well. The thing is, that is just not reality, so get use to the idea of weapons being a part of our planet at least until we all reach enlightenment in another million years or so. With that being said I do think an age limit could be a possible solution but just remember if a 10 year old can’t print a knife he might try something really ridiculous like opening the kitchen drawer where the knives are. I just get tired of all of this nanny stuff where people must be protected from themselves.

  48. Noobman Said,

    October 6, 2011 @ 7:15 am

    Guns dont kill ppls.

    Ppls kill ppls.

    Humankind is particularly good at it, outstanding actually.

    With or without weapons.

  49. bladedpenguin Said,

    October 6, 2011 @ 8:00 am

    As an american, I must point to our second amendment. Of course, I believe that the statement made by that little blurb of legality transcends time, borders, and nationality. A “well regulated militia” including firearms of all types, as well as the education and responsibility that goes with those weapons, is in the category of basic human rights, which, while not respected in all parts of the world, at least exists for all people everywhere.

    As I mentioned, Thingiverse is a private site, and is under no obligation to be that voice of freedom, but someone has to do it. Both First and Second Amendment rights are at stake here. Thingiverse is in a fine position to honor this call to take a stand for our rights, and I sincerely hope that we will answer that call.

    But srsly? 18+ only kthx bai. Kids don’t need that shit.

  50. Philippe Chretien Said,

    October 6, 2011 @ 11:23 am

    Thingiverse is not only a huge file sharing portal for 3D objects. It has the mission of popularizing the “desktop factory” ideology, to empower open source projects, to teach peoples they can build that new thing they dream of.

    If only once, someone uses a project from Thingiverse to convert a legal gun into a fully-auto, the whole credibility of the site will go kaboum! It already happen with ATM Skimmers. Some are using 3D printers to mimic ATMs and steal thousand of dollars. What do you thing would happen if a media found an ATM Skimming project on Thingiverse?

    Thingiverse is not the only place to share gun building ideas. Lets focus on education, collaboration and sharing for all …

  51. Joaquim Said,

    October 6, 2011 @ 11:24 am

    Please keep this site free from weapons (toys),deadly weapon (crossbows etc) weapon parts. The spirit of creating should not be shadowed by the fact that people concentrates on how to make destructive things.

  52. James Said,

    October 6, 2011 @ 1:07 pm

    Why can’t you create a dangerous flag and only allow logged in members to download those files with some age verification legal text and says thingiverse is not responsible?

    Personally I agree that they are amazing pieces of engineering and shouldn’t be excluded. It helps with understanding and cutting back fear is people know how they work. You can not control the use of any of the items on here and anything can be manipulated to be dangerous. Yet so many creative things are in their nature dangerous. Have you been to maker faire recently? I know you guys have. Look at the flaming lotus girls that use fire and explosions to create art. Would you exclude their work on here?

    In the end any restricts will hurt creativity!

    Once you start excluding certain things you will just open the doors for other restrictions until you get to a point where the community and media is so boring that people will leave.

    If you decide to exclude these items, I for one would be very interested in finding an alternative free forum for it and would even consider building one. I would suggest doing the bare minium that protects the site from any legal action and allow the community to grow on it’s own.

  53. Dave Monachello Said,

    October 7, 2011 @ 7:46 am

    http://weaponiverse.com/ seems to be up and running.

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