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3D-printed weapons are once again in the spotlight as Facebook has decided to relax its previous blanket ban on users promoting them.

The new decision concerns “legitimate gun shops and online vendors,” the source said, and also applies to Instagram.

The social media giant has essentially taken steps to align itself with existing national laws and allow linking to 3D blueprints and related content.

Thus – in those US states that permit sales of weapons, 3D blueprints for firearms that comply with the law will once again be available, too. This means the social media giant is lifting its blanket ban imposed last summer – which critics saw as a knee-jerk reaction that didn't take into account the actual legal status of these weapons.

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Outside of the United States, in places such as the UK and much of Europe, the ban will persist. This is in countries where it's prohibited by law to manufacture any kind of firearm without first being granted a license.

3D printing is a relatively new technology that allows creating physical objects by “printing” them, layer by layer, using a 3D printer – from a 3D digital model.

And as we know, all firearms consist of various parts that are assembled into a whole. 3D printed firearms are no different – so those who want to make them need appropriate blueprints, as well as a 3D printer.

Most US states allow 3D printed weapons, as long as they comply with the law which mandates that they must be detectable by metal detectors, and be sold only to US citizens.

What Facebook has done now, according to the Telegraph, is to green-light “vendors to direct users towards other websites where the [blueprint] files can be downloaded” – but not allow Facebook users to share such files on their profiles or pages.

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