Thingiverse deletes 3D weapons files w/o warning

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Have Blue’s 3D-printed lower receiver as tested in live fire on a .22 pistol.

The website Thingiverse, a repository for all kinds of 3D-printable objects, declared itself a gun-free zone on December 18 and deleted all the various weapons projects that had been posted there, several of which were linked to from this site. ORYHARA’s 2-part AR-15 was nuked, as was Have Blue’s.

Thingiverse is owned by MakerBot. In a comment to cNet, MakerBot attorney Richard McCarthy took credit for Thingiverse’s new anti-gun position, and defined guns out of their desirable universe of things “positive” and “creative.” At least one of the AR-15 parts, Have Blue’s receiver, was posted before McCarthy added anti-gun language to Thingiverse terms and conditions; in that case, at least, McCarthy changed the conditions to suit his and the firm’s politics, and then booted the files for violating them. Several anti-gun tech journalists, including cNet’s Rich Brown and Business Insider’s Dylan Love crowed about this development, taking credit in turn for motivating McCarthy into pulling the plug.

As one of the nuked projects’ designers says, “their site, their rules.” He goes on to point out that a lot of the stuff they do host is empty files or crap that won’t print. Read The Whole Thing™, but start with the excerpt here:

I’ve never really liked the manner in which it was run.  There was far too little quality control and far too much useless junk.

Thing 21574 … but the actual file (required when posting a ‘thing’) is an empty file.  So what does this mean?

It means that a user made a thing, printed it, took a picture of it, and posted it as a ‘thing’ with a picture but did not include the file others would need to print it.

And this thing became featured on their front page!  this empty thing.  this thing with no actual thing in it.  This thing is a very clear violation of the terms of use, which prohibit posting of a thing without the source files needed to make it.

Thing 19294 is not a thing at all.  It is a pile of scrap ABS from failed prints…. I could spend hours combing through thingiverse looking for all of the things i don’t like, but i have better things to do with my time.

Every time I see a thing posted with “I haven’t printed this. hope it works,” I sigh and shake my head.  This user has now unloaded the testing of his or her model onto the other users of thingiverse.  We have to spend our printer time and filament proving out this untested design.  And if the model in question is not marked ‘work in progress’ then one should expect it to work out of the box.

There is a bit of “sour grapes” in that, perhaps, but the guy is just hosting his own file now, and he’s out of the reach of, dare we call it, McCarthyism. Information wants to be free… and you can’t kill the signal. 3D image files are pure digits, pure signal, they are dimensionless, weightless, spaceless things, things that can cross borders, mountains, oceans, political boundaries and internet blackouts with seeming ease, and be gone without a trace.

No wonder totalitarians, whether fully-realized or merely incipient, don’t like this technology. All the more reason for us to learn and adopt it.