3D printing technology has some eying gun control implications

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- Chances are you have heard about 3D printing,but what about 3D-printed guns? This printer could create a new problem for regulating guns.

Earl Woodham is the spokesperson for the ATF of the Carolinas. He says the ATF has been keeping a close eye on the technology for several years, and will continue to do so as it advances.

He says there is no major threat of this development at the current time.

"As of today date there has not been consistently reliable firearm manufactured by the use of 3D printing," he said. "The materials are certainly not there and the technology isn't there."

He says only certain parts have been made.

"Technically the lower receiver can be fully made of plastic parts or some other material like a polymer manufactured through the use of 3D printing," Woodham said.

MakeLab is a creative workspace in North Charleston where people share their resources and ideas and use the machines for recreational use.

"People make pieces for their games you can make your own chess set I actually do 3D animation," said Elizabeth Barndollar, the vice president of the group.

Barndollar says the machines essentially work like a fancy computerized hot glue gun.

"It's very similar to ink jet printing but instead of ink we are using plastic and of instead printing on a piece of paper it's printing on top of itself, so that you can actually make full objects," she said.

Barndollar says she doesn't see the 3D printing of guns as a threat but as technology that could help the world make positive advances.

The ATF, however sees it differently.

"We are staying on top of this technology because we can see one day an individual will be able through the use of their printer manufacture a fully functional firearm," Woodham said.