3D-Printed Guns Can be Traced by "In-Fill Patterns"

3D-Printed Guns Can be Traced by "In-Fill Patterns"

University at Buffalo

Wenyao Xu, lead author of the University at Buffalo study.

3D-printed guns are wildly controversial, in no small part because they’re virtually untraceable. A study from the University at Buffalo could change that.

The 1968 Gun Control Act (GCA) required all firearms made or sold after October 22, 1968 to bear a serial number. This makes guns eminently traceable and helps identify the manufacturer and owner. 3D-printed firearms skip this whole process. No serial number makes them extremely hard to trace.

In fact, for 1st Amendment mavens like Cody Wilson, formerly the founder/director of Defense Distributed, that’s the point – to prove the futility of gun control.

This, plus the fact that many 3D-printed gun designs contain no metal, makes the whole enterprise a perfect microcosm of the gun control debate.

But a University at Buffalo-led study could shift that debate. Researchers have conclusively demonstrated the first method for tracing a 3D-printed object to the machine that spawned it.

"3D printing has many wonderful uses, but it's also a counterfeiter's dream. Even more concerning, it has the potential to make firearms more readily available to people who are not allowed to possess them," says the study's lead author Wenyao Xu, PhD.

The researchers honed in on the objects’ “in-fill patterns” and how factors like the printer's model type, filament, and nozzle size cause unique imperfections in the patterns. Even a 5-10% deviation from the design plan acts as a definitive signature.

The scientists created door keys from 14 3D printers and, by studying the unique in-fill patterns, were able to match the keys to their printer 99.8% of the time.

Something tells me we’ll see this on Blue Bloods in the near future.

Read more about this study here: http://www.buffalo.edu/news/releases/2018/10/030.html