This chapter is an interesting example of the potentially far-reaching consequences of failing to secure your intellectual property. In the modern era of total concept to product automation manufacturing, the loss of even a few Computer Aided Design (CAD) files are potentially enough to sink your business. In recent years, the use of Computer Numerical Control (CNC) systems have become very popular in the design and manufacture of arms as the military requests more complex systems in a crowded market where the lowest bidder is usually going to be awarded the procurement contract.
CNC systems are used to mass produce weapons to an exact specification with an absolute minimum of human interaction—sometimes only assembling the completed parts. A side effect of this approach is that CNC systems are easily available, relatively inexpensive, and can generate rapid return on investment. That, coupled with the fact that CNC instruction documents needed to drive such machines can be easily shared over the Internet and that home CNC gunsmithing has become something of a niche hobby among certain segments of the Internet, the potential not only for loss of intellectual property but also for massive proliferation is obvious. In the future, advanced 3D printing (as a broad term including plastics and hardened metals) will be available to virtually everyone and the legal restriction of firearms will likely become impossible to prevent (see Figure 5.1).