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.