Man Who Printed Working Guns Receives First-Ever Prison Sentence for 3D Printing

Ever since the invention of the printing press, people have been printing things that have landed them in jail.

But the first prison sentence regarding 3D printing was handed down Monday in Japan.

Yoshitomo Imura, a 28-year-old male, was sentenced to two years in prison after printing two guns in his Kawasaki home. Japan has strict gun control laws, outlined in the Swords and Firearms Control statutes.

Yokohama District Judge Koji Inaba condemned Imura’s actions, which also included uploading a video to the Internet showing how to manufacture his weapon, called the ZigZag.

“The criminal responsibility for this act is serious,” Judge Inaba ruled, also saying that Imura “flaunted his skills and knowledge and attempted to make gun controls toothless.”

Akira Noguchi, Imura’s attorney, said his client was not aware that his actions were illegal. Imura has never denied printing the weapons.

The prosecution had asked for a 42-month sentence. Noguchi said he and his client have not yet decided whether they will appeal the judge’s two-year sentence.

The world’s first working 3D-printed gun was The Liberator, designed by Texas law student Cody Wilson. Wilson says the plans for his design were downloaded more than 100,000 times before he was ordered to take them offline by the U.S. State Department.

Wilson’s gun was created on an expensive 3D printing machine, whereas Imura was able to manufacture his on a printer costing approximately $600.

The Wider Printing World

While 3D printing has been grabbing headlines lately (less controversial products include the pretty chocolates shown off at last week’s 3D Printshow in Paris), it’s not the only printing method that’s advancing.

Digital printing is revolutionizing the way that small businesses, in particular, can approach print products and advertising.

Digital printing, as opposed to traditional offset printing, doesn’t require the creation of custom plates — and is therefore an inexpensive solution for a small business or a consumer who only needs 25 copies of a project.

And digital printing has applications in other industries too, such as a growing use in making patterned textiles.

“Digital printing – primarily wide format digital printing – has been increasingly sought after by event and marketing companies to make a statement about their brand. With increasing immersive events and experiential marketing taking hold as the new way to reach out to clients, companies are inventing new ways to get some face time with their target audience. Pop-up shops and events have been one of the new and effective ways that brands have been reaching out to their consumers,” says Adam Sturm, President, Apple Visual Graphics.

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