The next Christmas Attack? – The threat of 3D Printer attacks

Written by Mr. Itay Levin

I have to say that I don’t have any information at this moment regarding any plot targeting civil aviation for the coming Christmas but the history of civil aviation is full of examples of attacks during this sensitive period of time.

Looking to create an advantage the adversary is always looking to surprise the security deployment and the latest threat we see on the horizon is the introduction of a new source of weapons – the 3 Dimension Printing Machines.

During the year 2013 we were witness to the production of two 3D printed Guns;

  1. The first one is a one shot hand gun manufactured by DEFENSE DISTRIBUTED out of Austin Texas USA. The company that developed the Liberator 3D printed gun released some YouTube videos demonstrating firing the weapon. The handgun shoots a single bullet and the only metal component is the firing pin and the bullet itself.
  2. The second 3D weapon is the Solid Concept’s pistol.  The pistol is a replica of the 45-caliber, M1911 semi-automatic that served as the U.S. military’s standard-issue sidearm. Solid Concepts said it has fired nearly 2,000 rounds using the pistol without a single malfunction.

3D objects are created when the 3D printers lay down a fine layer of powder and then using a laser to fuse granules together, build an object layer by layer from the ground up.

Can the 3D printed weapon be used as an element of assault against the civil aviation industry?

I think the answer to this question could be answered on two levels:

  1. The Liberator, a single shoot weapon is only a short step away from the ability of presenting a metal free single-shoot weapon. The relevant question here is whether a single shot weapon may be enough to demonstrate a credible threat to the industry. It is a fact that disassembled gun parts may overcome the detection capability of current detection technology but I believe that the outcome of the ability to shoot one single shoot should not accounted as a relevant threat.
  2. The Solid Concept’s multi shoots weapon cannot even be considered as a worthy challenge to the detection technology but if we considered an attack against the industry ground facilities by multiple attackers then it should be considered that this is a threat we face today with existing weapons by use of illegal arms.

Looking philosophically into the phenomenon of the 3D printing it will enable the adversary to create at his convenience any element he may need. This brings us back to the idea that weapons don’t come by themselves but must be brought to the place of attack and in my view we must recognize the adversary or we shall be overcome by the next Christmas attacker!

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