Recently I heard a podcaster mention they’d noticed an increase in the popularity and adoption of Bitcoin within the 3D printed firearms community. The host, who is a ‘Bitcoin guy’ but not (yet) a 3D printed gun guy, couldn’t quite explain the reasons behind this increased interest in Bitcoin.
He’s probably not the only one, so I thought it might be helpful to examine a couple of use cases for Bitcoin within the scope of the 3D printed gun scene. Most 3D gun enthusiasts want to protect their identities but also need to buy parts, pay vendors, and tip designers. The mainstream financial systems make this difficult. Bitcoin plays a major role in solving all of these problems. So let’s take a look at where it comes in handy.
1. Buying Rails
Many 3D printed gun designs require the use of metal “rails” to secure OEM parts like slide assemblies to the 3D printed components like gun frames and grips.
These rails are sold online by vendors like Avees Rails or Riptide Rails. For obvious reasons, a person might not want to use their credit card, real name, and billing address to purchase ghost gun parts on the open internet.
Bitcoin fixes this.
For the gun builder, Bitcoin is a route to pay for the parts needed without having to trust the vendor with personal information. It also avoids creation of a record of such activity with one’s bank or credit union.
For the vendor, it facilitates the selling of wares without friction from traditional choke points like Terms of Service agreements with payment processors. Bitcoin also alleviates the vendor’s risk of PayPal seizing their funds and suspending their account, as they’re prone to do.
2. Contributing to Bounties
3D printed gun files don’t simply appear out of thin air. A developer somewhere has to sit down with a stock part or schematic and convert the manufacturer’s specs into a computer-aided design (CAD) file. This can take days or weeks, sometimes longer in ambitious projects.
Most of the time this work is done for free. It’s a passion and personal interest. But sometimes people who aren’t CAD designers have specific requests for things they want to 3D print. They can’t make the print file themselves; they need to pay someone else to do it for them. This is where bounties come in. Bounties are market tools to incentivize designers to meet the demand for specific items.
People contribute to a gun bounty to entice developers to make designs that people want to 3D print. For example, if there’s a demand for a specific gun design, a bounty might create a scenario where 25 people have each contributed $20. Any developer who wants the money simply has to create the printable file.
The first developer to produce a functional print file for this product would then be rewarded with the $500 bounty.
These bounty programs are typically powered by Bitcoin, and they’re how the consumer produces a market incentive for developers to meet their demand.
3. Tipping Developers
Because so many developers work for “free,” it’s common for them to list a Bitcoin wallet address where users can tip them for their efforts. The developers on DEFCAD and Deterrence Dispensed spend considerable time and energy to produce the CAD files that people love to print and build.
There’s not a great way to tip someone for developing a 3D printed gun design using the conventional financial system. Sending developers Bitcoin is a way of supporting 3D printed gun designers without compromising either party’s identity. This is another “Bitcoin fixes this” moment.
4. Securing One’s Identity
When interacting with 3D gun downloads, group chats, forums, and vendor websites, it’s a good idea to hide one’s real IP address from server logs, analytics, marketing companies, or anyone else who may be snooping.
One way to do this is by encrypting your traffic and IP address over a virtual private network (VPN). Many reputable VPN companies allow customers to pay for their service via Bitcoin. Accepting Bitcoin payments means that ‘know your Customer’ (KYC) information like billing addresses or real names aren’t required.
It’s always a good idea to hide your IP address from who you’re interacting with, but it’s also a good idea to hide your identity from your VPN provider. If your VPN really cares about your privacy, the only thing they’ll need from you is payment, and again, “Bitcoin fixes this.”
3D printed guns allow gun enthusiasts to escape legacy gun control concepts like registration, licensing, and purchasing records. Anyone with a printer and an internet connection can make a safe, high-quality, semi-automatic at this point.
Politically and philosophically, Bitcoin works in symbiosis with the 3D printed gun movement. The name of the game is sovereignty. This is achieved with Bitcoin by allowing gun builders, parts vendors, and designers to deal directly with one another in a voluntary, peer-to-peer context. No one needs Visa’s approval.
And while the idea that free men don’t ask permission has always been romantic, it suddenly holds true in a very practical way. Happy printing.
- If you aren’t 3D printing yet, you should get started! Learn how here: https://www.enblocpress.com/3d-printing/
- If you’re wondering about a VPN: I’ve been using ProtonVPN for a while now and I’m very satisfied with it. It works well on desktop or your phone. There are free servers and the paid option is a few bucks a month.
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