In December, a digital design sharing forum called Thingiverse, which is maintained by the manufacturer of the 3D printer Makerbot, removed all firearm-related designs. But some of these designs are not lost -- they've simply moved to another website, which now reports seeing heavy traffic from around the world.
The digital blueprints for gun components to be made on 3D printers were collected and posted on a site maintained by Defense Distributed, the organization spearheading the Wiki-Weapons project that is creating a fully functional 3D printed gun and is posting designs for it on the Web as they go along. TheBlaze has reported on Wiki-Weapons several times before and noted that it is, in part, a project with the goal of protecting freedom of information on the Internet.
When gun designs were taken off by Thingiverse, an action Defense Distributed founder Cody Wilson called censorship, he and his team pulled as many designs as they could onto a new website for the project call DEFCAD. Ever since creating the new digital design sharing site specifically for 3D printable firearms on Dec. 20, Wilson said the amount of traffic has been surprising.
"Just like people were rushing to stores to buy guns, there was a virtual rush to gun files," Wilson said in a phone interview with TheBlaze.
Wilson pointed out that there is no way all these people have 3D printers of their own, but that people "just want the files."
"People are just interested in preserving the information," Wilson said.
In the interest of preserving the information, Wilson said they are looking to migrate DEFCAD onto what he thinks would be a more secure Web server, where they wouldn't be forced to remove content for one reason or another in the future. In doing this, Wilson said they took at look at the host sites from which many of their visitors were coming.
He said the most frequent visitors to the site are private individuals, some from South America, Europe, Russia and China, but Defense Distributed filtered the results to see the top government visitors as well.
Here's the list of the top 17 visitors from government host sites to Defense Distributed's DEFCAD site.
(Image: WikiWep DevBlog)
Wilson said he's not surprised that the government is looking at Defense Distributed.
"It's interesting to see the average time on the site [by some of them,]" Wilson said, noting that they're not just coming and leaving. They're spending some time looking around to see what Defense Distributed has going on.