I agree with Mr. Teschler’s blog entry that regulating 3D printers is a knee-jerk reaction and is counterproductive (“Good night! Now They Want to Regulate 3D Printers!!” May 13, From the Editor’s Desk). However, given the cost and relative lack of expertise needed to run a 3D printer (especially compared to a lathe or CNC), then it is easy to see why 3D printers would be the manufacturing method of choice for making something like a plastic gun. But if we can’t get background checks on people who have guns, how are we going to get background checks on people who have access to equipment which could conceivably make guns?
It’s amusing that the solution to this so-called problem is yet another law which either won’t work or will be poorly enforced. It would help if they would take the time to find out how items are really manufactured before they start talking and expose their ignorance. That 3D gun you see takes a full day to “print” — for a single shot. This low-power weapon threatens the world? Get serious.
While they are at it, how about registering knives. Knives kill more people in the U. S. than firearms. Oh, don’t forget clubs, too, and things that can be used as clubs like tree branches. Better register trees, too, just to be safe.
Apparently these folks aren’t familiar with lost-wax casting, modern machining, or any of the sintering technologies that let you make stainless-steel products at low temperatures. Most guns can be made today in a garage with a couple of gas ovens and a few hours work with some plaster of Paris. Cheap weapons might even be made like belt buckles with rubber spin casting. So why worry about some guy with a 3D imaging set up? The engine lathe coupled with a five-axis CNC mill is a much more productive way to make guns.
At the shop where I used to work, the machinists had access to machines after working hours. They turned out about five automatic rifles and shotguns a week, cherry-wood handles, hand-engraved silver and brass trigger housings — magnificent. And show me where that is illegal in most states? It is just a great way to make some beautiful machines by turning idle time into cash.
It just goes to show how technologically ignorant some of our legislators are. Firearms are just a special type of useful machines created by human ingenuity and creativity. The knowledge about making firearms is already out and no amount of regulation on 3D printers can put it back into the realm of elite craftsmen.
CNC shortage? Really?
Being in my late 40s and having just graduated from an accredited CNC college program, I have been trying to enter the workforce as a CNC machinist. So it’s bittersweet reading what some in your audience have written about not being able to find CNC machinists. Even your editorial on November 17 advised “Wall Streeters” to pursue CNC machinist or welding jobs.
Well, your readers and employers are not asking for just CNC machinists — they are asking for CNC machinists with three-years experience. Unfortunately, having a diploma for CNC machining doesn’t qualify as “experience.” In my case, living in Houston and looking as far as California and North Carolina (and all states in between) hasn’t landed me a machinist job in almost five months. The headhunters and companies I speak with tell me they get plenty of applicants but without the experience that they need.
This tells me that there is a huge problem with the mindset of most employers: They think only of the short term. This creates the perceived “shortage” of both machinists and engineers. Finally, anyone talking about “shortages in the workforce” should ask themselves: “If we hire candidates and give them on-the-job-training for three to six months, will we still need to be looking for applicants seven months from now?”
Name withheld by request