Music and NPR News for Central and Northern Michigan
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

3D print almost anything

3D printers have been very much in the news lately. A blueprint for a 3D-printed gun was released to the public this week. A federal judge in Washington state quickly blocked downloads of the plans.

Still many people have safety concerns about printed guns and many others are curious if they would work.

Scott Kinsley is assistant manager of IT for the College of Arts and Media at Central Michigan University. He said tests by others have most often resulted in failure due to weak plastic.



Credit Xavier Mendoza | WCMU
Scott Kinsley checks on one of the 3D printers as it demonstrates how it looks to, "print" an object, at Makerbot Innovation Center at Central Michigan University, on August 1, 2018.

“Two out of the three guns they printed broke,” he said. “They cracked, one exploded, sending shrapnel everywhere, although they did have one successful firing.”

Kinsley said, in short, a functional plastic firearm is not easily made.

People who use 3D printers say they’re easy to use if you have: access to the printer and a blueprint.


Credit Xavier Mendoza | WCMU
Kinsley demonstrates the preview screen of an object before the printing process. The digital render shows the hollow interior.

Kinsley said the process is just a few clicks away.

“Typically you download what is known as a STL file,” he said. “Then you feed it to a program that converts that program to work with your 3D printer. It does all the work for you.”  


Credit Xavier Mendoza | WCMU
The finished printing of a set of chains.