3D printing brand targets DIY gun market with disinformation campaign

Activity, by TBWA, aims to frustrate people by spreading faulty blueprints for 3D-printed guns.

3D printing brand targets DIY gun market with disinformation campaign

A 3D printing company is taking the fight to people who build their own guns by spreading a trove of fake how-to documents online. 

The "Harmless guns" campaign, created for Dagoma by TBWA\Paris, aims to stop the spread of printable guns. 

It is possible for people to make a gun using a 3D printer by finding and following instructions from blueprint files online. To date, the files have been downloaded more than 13,000 times. 

These DIY guns are untraceable because they have no serial number and, because they are made of plastic, can be passed through security checkpoints.

To counteract the spread of these files and frustrate those who want to print their own guns, Dagoma enlisted TBWA\Paris to upload modified versions of the files that would provide instructions to print gun parts that would not fit together. Hundreds of these files were posted to community websites, forums and 3D model platforms.

All the changes made to each component’s weight, appearance and name are imperceptible to the naked eye, the Omnicom agency said. The work was written by Swann Richard and art directed by François Claux. 

Claux told Campaign: "To fight the spread of these guns, we knew we needed to get to the root of the problem. These files are spreading everywhere and are easy to download; you don’t even have to use the dark web."

Using a VPN to cloak their location, the agency’s team also posed as enthusiasts on social media to promote the modified documents and discredit real ones. 

"It will take about a week to see if the gun works or not once they have 3D-printed it. That’s the only way you’ll find out that, in fact, you can’t build the gun," Claux added. 

Dagoma is also developing 3D weapon file detector software to prevent firearms from being manufactured on its printers.

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