UT Student's Printable Gun On Display This Month at Prestigious British Design Museum

Just in time for next week's London Design Festival, the Victoria and Albert Museum -- the world's largest repository of post-classical sculpture and East Asian and Islamic ceramics -- will feature the work of a Texan that just might stand out: University of Texas law student Cody Wilson's printable gun.

Seated in the Royal Burrough of Kensington and Chelsea, the museum, founded in 1852 and named for Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, had this to say about its latest acquisition: "The invention of this so called 'wiki weapon' sparked intense debate and upended discussions about the benefits of new manufacturing technologies and the unregulated sharing of designs online. The V&A has acquired two Liberator prototypes, one disassembled gun and a number of archive items to enhance its collection of 3D printed objects and represent a turning point in debates around digital manufacturing."

Wilson has maintained he's more interested in the "democratization" of gun manufacturing than he is in the guns themselves, though last time we checked, his company, Defense Distributed, was forging ahead with manufacturing space provided by a San Antonio defense firm.

He apparently test-fired the "The Liberator" -- created with a metal nail that acts as a firing pin and a set of components fed by computer into an $8,000 3-D printer purchased on eBay -- back in May. He plans to put the blueprints online, free of charge. All that's needed is a rare, incredibly expensive 3-D printer, which means, for now at least, we shouldn't hyperventilate too much about criminals printing out entire arsenals. In the U.S., the wiki-weapon became the logical extreme of firearms proliferation in an increasingly armed society.

In the rarefied halls of the V&A, in a country with a largely disarmed populace, the printable gun is among "the best and most exciting design projects of our time. This year's acquisitions reflect an interesting combination of new technologies working with traditional crafts," V&A director Martin Roth said.

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Brantley Hargrove