3D-Printing: The Good, the Bad, and the Science

Once considered science fiction, direct digital manufacturing (DDM), colloquially known as 3-d printing, became a household term this past May when Cody Wilson demonstrated that a firearm constructed with a DDM machine could fire at least one shot. Numerous concerns have since sprung up in policy circles about the security implications of such a rapidly developing technology: printing weapons to avoid logistical barriers, fabricating missile components to enhance home grown capabilities, or using chemical inks to print chemical weapons, among others. Nevertheless, despite these concerns, the societal benefits of DDM will ensure that the DDM technological revolution will continue.

On September 23, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Center for Science, Technology, and Security Policy is convening a luncheon panel discussion to bring science into this conversation. Where is DDM technology headed? What is DDM capable of? What are the benefits and risks of the technology? Are the security concerns that have recently been highlighted realistic? How might we think about the security implications of DDM in the future?