3D printed "trigger" found by Greater Manchester Police compared to a Makerbot Replicator 2 extruder alternative
3D printed "trigger" found by Greater Manchester Police compared to a Makerbot Replicator 2 extruder alternative

Doubts emerge over police "first ever 3D gun" claims

News: Greater Manchester Police have issued a new statement following earlier claims that they had seized "component parts for what could be the UK's first ever 3D gun" after the 3D-printing community pointed out they may be harmless printer upgrade parts.

"We cannot categorically say we have recovered the component parts for a 3D gun," said the police, after Dezeen readers and technology websites raised doubts over the claims.

"I have worked with 3D-printers for several years, and I actually have that exact same printer, that's why I recognised the parts," said Dezeen reader Thor Henrik Bruun.

3D-printed part found by Greater Manchester Police compared to Makerbot Thingiverse filament spool holder
3D-printed "gun clip" found by Greater Manchester Police (top) compared to a Makerbot Thingiverse filament spool holder

Bruun, who lives in Norway, posted a comment on our earlier story about the police claims, saying: "These are not gun-parts. The "trigger" is a part from an Replicator 2 extruder-upgrade and the other looks like a filament spool-holder."

Bruun posted links to the components - an extruder part listed on MakerBot's website and a filament holder listed on Thingiverse - which he says strongly resemble items in photographs released by Greater Manchester Police this morning.

Bruun added: "I don't have proof that these parts aren't for nefarious uses, but using existing upgrade-parts for making a gun instead of making or printing bespoke parts seems to defeat the purpose of using a 3D-printer."

3D printed "trigger" found by Greater Manchester Police compared to a Makerbot Replicator 2 extruder alternative
3D printed "trigger" found by Greater Manchester Police compared to a Makerbot Replicator 2 extruder alternative

On Twitter @RARA_London tweeted Dezeen commenting: "It's a spool holder and a drive block, (modified parts of the machine itself) for anyone interested".

An article on Buzzfeed claimed that "Greater Manchester Police haven't seized the UK's first 3D printed gun" while The Verge also reported Bruun's claims.

Bruun said other members of the 3D printing community were making a similar point on Facebook. "I had a look on the GMP Facebook page also, and the top comment is (was) someone else linking to similar parts," said Bruun.

Greater Manchester Police issued a statement earlier today titled "Component parts for UK's first 3D gun seized," describing how they had seized a MakerBot Replicator 2 3D printer and printed components they suspected of being gun parts.

In a new statement issued this afternoon, assistant chief constable Steve Heywood said: "We need to be absolutely clear that at that this stage, we cannot categorically say we have recovered the component parts for a 3D gun.

"What we have seized are items that need further forensic testing by national ballistics experts to establish whether they can be used in the construction of a genuine, viable firearm.

"We will also be conducting a thorough analysis of computers we have recovered to establish any evidence of a blueprint on how to construct such a weapon.

"Clearly the fact we have seized a 3D printer and have intelligence about the possible production of a weapon using this technology is of concern. It prudent we establish exactly what these parts can be used for and whether they pose any threat.

"What this has also done is open up a wider debate about the emerging threat these next generation of weapons might pose.

"The worrying thing is for me is that these printers can be used to make certain components of guns, while others can be legitimately ordered over the Internet without arousing suspicion. When put together, this could allow a person to construct a firearm in their own home.

"Thanks to Challenger, which is the biggest ever multi-agency response to organised crime in Greater Manchester's history, we now have even greater resources to combat any emerging threats posed by organised criminal gangs, which may include the production of these weapons.Under Challenger we will a multi-agency action plan for every single organised crime group in Manchester and we will target these networks from every possible angle, hitting them where it hurts."