3D printing technology has assisted in creating parts for a number of airplanes and helicopters across the globe. From Turbomeca’s 3D printed fuel injector nozzles to the environmental control system for the Bell Helicopter, this emerging technology has helped ease the load for certain traditional manufacturing methods. But has this use of 3D printing technology finally gone too far? One 3D printing hobbyist from Australia, named Darren Stuckman, is (facetiously) 3D printing a full-sized and fully operational Boeing AH-64 Apache helicopter off of his domestic 3D printer, taking military-grade power and putting it the hands of the dangerous Maker community. Australian comedy news program Dafuq has sent their reporter Rift (real name Henry Inglis) down to Stuckman’s workshop to investigate this dangerous use of 3D printing technology.
A bit more controversial than the 3D printed gun, the Apache attack helicopter is equipped with two rocket launchers and a 30 millimeter automatic cannon, and is FULLY LEGAL to create, too. Although the helicopter usually costs $35 million to traditionally manufacture, the 3D printed Apache will somehow only cost Stuckman his ‘time and materials’, needing only to print 400,000 individual parts on his domestic 3D printer. “I’ll be really really responsible with it, it’s just to get from point A to point B,” Stuckman said on camera. Now, Stuckman seems like a pretty decent guy, but still, what if these 400,000 3D printed parts got into the wrong hands? What if everyone had a 3D printed Apache attack helicopter in their own homes?
Luckily, this story is completely silly and satirical (although some people on LiveLeak’s comment section didn’t quite understand that), yet there seems to be an underlying message behind the humor. What Dafuq’s reporter Rift seems to be riffing on is Australia’s strict gun laws directed at 3D printing, which have gone so far as to penalize those that possess even the digital files for a 3D printed gun (though it could be applied to laws being considered worldwide). In New South Wales for example, physical or digital possession of a 3D printable gun can net you up to 14 years in prison. So, perhaps Australian citizens would be best off just 3D printing and causing mayhem in their own Apache attack helicopter, considering that even an STL file of a gun can get you put away for quite a while. Of all the innovative ways that 3D printing technology has grown over the years, it seems that the mainstream media rather focus on the few ways it could be used for harm, and this 3D printed Apache attack helicopter video report by Dafuq seems to be poking fun at this fact.