'Pirate Bay' Of 3D Printing Ready To Set Sail
March 13, 2013

‘Pirate Bay’ Of 3D Printing Ready To Set Sail

Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online

3D printing hasn't even gotten a chance to get off the ground yet, but there is already a "Pirate Bay" for 3D printers.

MakerBot is one of the best-known 3D printing companies out there, and its "Thingiverse" site allows its 3D printer users to download files to create objects with their printers. Essentially, 3D printing could one day put toy stores out of business, because instead of heading down to Toys-R-Us to pick up your nephew's present, you can just print one off on your desktop after downloading the right files.

So far, everything on Thingiverse is free to download, but one day companies like Disney might sell their files for you to create your own Woody from Toy Story with your MakerBot. The biggest enemy for the future digital age of toys would be websites like Pirate Bay, and one of those enemies has already risen.

DEFCAD is a site dedicated to becoming a search engine for 3D printing and the site claims it has no plans on censoring any files that come in, except malicious software. The site says it was created quickly in response to MakerBot Industries' decision to censor files uploaded to Thingiverse, such as guns.

Cody Wilson, law student and self-proclaimed crypto-anarchist, is founder of DEFCAD and set up Defense Distributed last year, which is a project aimed at printing gun parts. Wilson said at SXSW panels on Monday that DEFCAD won't ever bow to copyright claims, adding they are willing to fight everything to the full extent of the law.

"Can 3D printing be subversive? If it can, it will be because it allows us to make the important things – not trinkets, not lawn gnomes, but the things that institutions and industries have an interest in keeping from us," Wilson says in a video about DEFCAD. "Things like access, medical devices, drugs, goods, guns. DEFCAD will provide access with a view to these things, the important things, and there will be no takedowns – ever."

Defense Distributed is a group that aims to make information freely available through the Internet. Last year, the group announced plans to start an online campaign to raise $20,000 to purchase a 3D printer and begin perfecting plans for a single-use, plastic gun, after which they intended to upload plans across the Internet for public domain. However, Stratasys, the maker of the 3D printer Wilson planned on using, showed up to his house before he could get to work on the gun and took it away.

“It is the policy of Stratasys not to knowingly allow its printers to be used for illegal purposes. Therefore, please be advised that your lease of the Stratasys uPrint SE is cancelled at this time and Stratasys is making arrangements to pick up the printer,” Stratasys wrote to Wilson.

After Stratasys showed up at his house to take away the leased 3D printer, the ATF informed Wilson that not only was he under investigation, but that his apartment was set to be investigated by the government agency.