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MakerBot purges user-generated weapon blueprints from 3D printing community site

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3D printing company MakerBot has deleted a number of blueprints for gun parts from Thingiverse, a site that collects user-generated models for 3D-printing. The weapon components have long been prohibited under the site's terms of service, which state that users may not upload blueprints for any object that "promotes illegal activities or contributes to the creation of weapons" — but it appears MakerBot is finally enforcing that guideline. While Thingiverse user Michael Guslick speculates to Forbes that this new enforcement is as a result of last week's Sandy Hook Elementary shooting, MakerBot did not make mention of the tragedy in its statement. Instead, MakerBot spokesperson Jenifer Howard told Forbes that the company's goal is to "empower the creative process and make things for good," and that the recent takedown was simply part of the site's ongoing evolution.

The issue of printing weapons is divisive within the 3D printing community, but many companies disapprove of using their products and services to create gun components. Shapeways, another popular 3D printing site, has a staunch content policy, and does not allow users to upload designs for objects larger than ten centimeters that resemble a weapon or weapon accessory. In October, 3D printer manufacturer Stratasys demanded a rental unit back from Defense Distributed after the company discovered that founder Cody Wilson planned to use it to print weapon parts. In response to MakerBot's purge, Wilson told Forbes that his group plans to create a site for hosting weapon blueprints "in the next few hours."