MIAMI (CB4) - With one shot, a 25-year old Texas law student killed two things: the notion that 3D technology is only used by professionals and any chance of the gun debate going away.
Cody Wilson stirred both topics by creating the 'Liberator', the world's first entirely printed 3D gun with its parts made of plastic.
"I can make machine guns, short-barrel rifles, short-barrel shotguns with the license I have right now," said Wilson. "All the kinds of things people worry about when they think about weapons are things I am now licensed to make."
Wilson put the plans for his home-made handgun on his website and made them available for download; they ended up being downloaded more than 100,000 times.
Almost anyone can create their own 'Liberator' with the many affordable 3D printers on the market.
The U.S. State Department demanded that Wilson remove the plans from his website which triggered a virtual firestorm of controversy.
"People are saying this is now about more than guns," said Wilson. "This is about the freedom of information, the regulation of the internet."
Even more controversy lies in the 3D guns themselves in that they can't be traced to any possible crimes they may have been used in. All guns made of metal are engraved with a serial number where 3D guns do not have a serial number because they are made of plastic.
In the 3D technology gunfight, Level 3 Inspection Founder Bill Greene uses airline engine parts as his ammo.
"This is an investment cast jet engine blade," said Greene as he held up a small, metal blade.
Greene said that he can prove to jet engine manufacturers where weaknesses lie in their parts, and he uses a 3D scanner to do so.
"With early adopters, people are using it, getting it and are saving millions of dollars," said Greene. "But other companies are saying 'sounds too new', even though we've been doing it for 12 years."
In those 12 years, Level 3 Inspection from Stuart, Florida has patented a process that nearly no competitor can touch.
"What it's doing is measuring the contrast of the shadows to the light," said Level 3 Inspection 3D Scanning Manager, Wade Rigsby. "It's measuring the bends in the light."
The image scanned by the Level 3 Inspection's scanner creates a file showing four million touch-points for inspection. Traditional inspection uses up to about 10,000, according to Greene.
The image is then sent to engineers for final inspection in the Level 3 Inspection computer lab.
Level 3 Inspection has even inspected parts for the military's most expensive project, the F35 fighter jet, funded by taxpayers.
Level 3 Inspection doesn't only inspect airline engine parts but also helps companies ensure that what goes into a person's body, which has a hip or knee replacement, never has to come back out.
3D technology is even making its way into the operating room.
"They have 3D printers of body parts now," said Greene. "We can actually scan the shape of, say, a person's ear, and replicate that with living tissue."
From ears to airline parts, it seems 3D inspection, measurement and printing is here to stay, one scan at a time.
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