London: A 3D printer believed to have been used by criminals to make handguns was seized by British police from what could be one of the world’s first 3D gun factories.
Officers in Manchester discovered the printer and other components that may have been used to make "next generation" firearms, according to reports here today.
A man was arrested on suspicion of making gunpowder and remains in custody.
Anti-gang police raided a number of addresses in Baguley area of the northern city as part of an operation against organised crime.
They found a trigger and a magazine that officers believe could hold bullets, along with the 3D printer in which the components were thought to have been made.
Firearms specialists are examining the plastic parts to establish whether they could be fitted together to make a viable weapon.
Detective Inspector Chris Mossop said: "This is a really significant discovery for Greater Manchester Police.
"If what we have seized is proven to be viable components capable of constructing a genuine firearm, then it demonstrates that organised crime groups are acquiring technology that can be bought on the high street to produce the next generation of weapons."
Since the components are made of plastic and can avoid X-ray detection, they are easy to conceal and smuggle. "A lot more work needs to be done to understand the technology and the scale of the problem," he said.
The printers can be bought easily in Britain for around 1,200 pounds and print out the desired object by building up thin layers of molten plastic.
Experts believe they can theoretically be used to make a gun containing no metal parts that could evade detection by usual security scanners.