On that 3D-Printed Japanese Gun: A Revealing Interview with Hunter Tim Curnew

No Guns Allowed in Japan - AkihabaraNews.com

Is it Really a Gun? Just a Complicated Weapon? Whatever the Case, Yoshitomo Imura is Incarcerated
Well, it’s global now - on countless general tech sites, 3D printing hubs, proper news outlets, and even over at McCNN with a side order of Fox News. And that is, in a first of its kind case here in Japan, a man has been arrested after firing blank bullets with a device he made from a recipe available online (and then, over a month ago, doing the YouTube self-incriminating - see clips below).

The device is the manual cocking, semi-automatic Zig Zag Revolver, an awkward looking plastic six-shooter. The gun floats in something of a legal grey area, but Japanese authorities have now taken some clarifying steps. It’s likely that the Mr. Imura could face charges for the individual acts of making the gun, possessing it, and firing it - each come with their own set of firearms violations under Japanese civilian law. Oh, and some reports indicate that it's no airsoft gun - it's very likely powerful enough to kill.

That's all very bad for Mr. Imura, but normally such charges aren’t even big news here in Japan, never mind globally. But now that 3D printing’s involved, it’s super sexy news and the world must know. But something kinda stinks in Tokyo...

Is 3D Printing Incidental to the Real Story, Rightly: Japanese Guy Made a Gun and Guns are Bad Here
The term ‘3D Printing’ definitely has the keyboard pounders and talking heads all bothered, but in becoming so, we the media have kind of manufactured a straw man...or straw technology to hold up as the blameworthy enabler. Problem is, it's not that at all.

Because here's the the thing: fabricating a Zig Zag Revolver and its ammunition is quite a lot more complicated than simply printing out gun-shaped pieces of plastic with all the right holes and notches and mounts. In fact, 3D printing is absolutely the easiest part of the whole project. It should be obvious that one cannot make or fire an explosively propelled projectile - a bullet - with the relatively malleable plastics of commercially available 3D printing filament. Nope, making this thing work requires some hardcore traditional metalworking skills - skills that have little to no relationship to 3D printing.

And so, we know that Mr. Imura has invested in a lot more than a SCOOVO or Makerbot; the clues are way out in the open in both this news clip and this one, too. Both are in Japanese, but it's the visuals of Mr. Imura’s shop that matter. After taking a close look, and after taking in the explaination offered by our guest, Mr. Tim Curnew, it really comes into focus that the 3D printing part, the reason we care at all, should by all logic be a footnote. Of course it doesn't work that way, but still.

Have a listen for more:
On Yesterday’s News and Gun Laws in Japan:
An Interview with Hunter, Outdoorsman, and 20-Year Resident, Mr. Tim Curnew

Editors’ Note: Our apologies for the poor audio quality. Just, you know, breaking news meets time meets guy who lives out in the sticks of rural Japan where there’s no broadband! 


Originally from Newfoundland, Canada, outdoorsman and environmental conservationist Tim Curnew has been licensed to own a firearm and hunt in rural southern Japan, his home for more than 20 years.

The 'This is Bad Timing for 3D Printing in Japan' Addendum:
It is way too late, 3D printing is firmly the demon in this story, and it comes at a point when Japan’s 3D printing industry is pushing hard to gain relevance in a market dominated by primarily American but also a handful of European and Chinese firms. Despite helping pioneer the field, Japan has fallen far behind in what’s also known as the ‘additive manufacturing’ industry. Hard to tell at this point, but this story could damage the market.

For more than a few details on just how far behind Japan has been, have a read of our summer 2013 feature Japan's 3D Printing Industry: Leapfrog, Not Catch-Up, is the Game to Play, wherein we discuss a rather embarrassing stat: as of 2012, Japan held a grand total of just 0.3% of the global 3D printer market.

So, is this bad news for Japan’s up and coming personal 3D printer market?
Tell us in the comments below, and then soon enough, we all shall see. 

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[RELATED]
Japanese 3D Printing at AkihabaraNews

Via 3DPI.TV, this video includes footage from Imura’s now deleted original:

Source: 

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• • •

Hong Kong's 3D printer producer, Makible, signed a distributor agreement with Asianet and opened an online store called MakiBox Japan for the Japanese market. They are going to start selling 3D printer construction kits at reasonable prices on February 20:

- MakiBox A6 LT for ¥34,800
- MakiBox A6 HT for ¥46,800

MakiBox A6 is a semi-assembled 3D printer kit series with simple assembly requiring you to screw and clamp some components together and tune a bit.

Bonsai Lab, Inc. has released the reasonably-priced compact 3D printer BS01 on April 1.

In December, 2013, 3D printer BS01 was sold for 3 weeks only at the cloud funding site "kibidango". It collected the targeted amount of money after just 2 days, and reached about ¥10,500,000 funding in 3 weeks, an amount about 5 times more than their targeted amount.

XYZprinting Japan is going to start selling the personal 3D printer da Vinci 1.0 3D Printer for ¥69,800 on March 18 in Japan.

XYZprinting is a Taiwanese company. They promote a reasonable price, and although Japanese tax will be increased to 8% on April 1, they will keep the price ¥69,800 including tax after that date.

There is no complicated initial setting required for da Vinci 1.0 3D Printer. As soon as you set the filament, you are able to start using it.

Mutoh Engineering is currently holding a printing service event where you can make your own 3D figure dolls at Tokyo Solamachi, a shopping mall at Tokyo Skytree.

This is a collaborated event with Digitizer, a French scanner manufacture. It's open from 10 A.M. to 9 P.M every day until June 11.

Nakabayashi, Japanese corporation offering stationery-related products, announced that they obtained exclusive distribution rights in Japan to sell the 3D printing pen 3Doodler that the American company Wobbles Works has developed.

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• • •

3D printer plays a key role in development of Privacy Visor

The National Institute of Informatics (NII) and Maezawa Mold have been co-developing a wearable device, the Privacy Visor, to protect users' privacy from SNS facial recognition.

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Another Non-Japaneses Manufacturer Enters the Japanese Market
Brulé
today started reselling 3D printer "Ultimaker2" in Japan, manufactured by a Dutch 3D printer company. It is now available for ¥349,800 yen on Brulé's official site.

The printable area range of Ultimaker2 is up to 230×225×205mm. The minimum built-up pitch is 0.02mm. As an FDM or FFF printer, it is one of the 3D printers that has the highest accuracy.