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There is a new machine on the market that can create 3d components out of plastic without the need for moulds. Using plastic thread and computer design drawings (or even a photo) it builds the product up by layer. It is the same principal as the coil pots you made at school.

“On top of a heated plate, a “pen” squeezes out lines of plastic thinner than a human hair as a fan cools it instantly – turning 3D objects on a PC screen into real, solid plastic models.

Instead of simply putting ink to paper, 3D printers allow anyone to create an object they’ve designed, using plastics or metal. The machine then takes the design and builds up the item one microscopic layer at a time, with it slowly appearing before your eyes.” Yahoo.

This means that anyone with access to one of these machines, a computer aided design program and some base plastic, can make whatever they want. And the machines cost less than £700.00 and can be bought at Maplins, a high street electronics store.

The thought is quite horrific. We are already drowning in a mass of plastic crap we don’t need and can’t dispose of properly but at least amounts were limited, and I say that with a hollow laugh, by manufacturing constraints. Now anyone can build anything.

I was worried about the implications for a massive increase in plastic rubbish, concerned that the long-term implications of plastic detritus were being ignored and remain unacknowledged. I should have thought harder.

In May 2013, the US Government demanded that non-profit  Defence Distributed  (DD) took their design for a plastic pistol off line. Yes the designs for the fully-functional 3D-printed handgun, the Liberator, were available on line. By the time the organisation complied, “the files had “already been downloaded more than 100,000 time and, according to the founder Cody Wilson, are now safe in the hands of Internet communities.”

Frickin A! An unlicensed gun that cannot be detected by airport scanners. For sure it might self destruct after a few rounds – into hundreds of pieces of non biodegradable, polluting plastic.

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