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3D Print vs Airport Security

Today I had a tough time convincing airport security to let me carry this 3D printed adjustable spanner in my hand baggage. I tried explaining that it was made out of plastic and not metal and hence couldn’t be used to tighten or loosen a real nut, which I knew was a lie.

“So what is this used for?” asked the security person. I replied, “It’s a sample 3D print just like these other parts in the box.”

“3D print?”, he asked suspiciously. I knew then that I had opened a can of worms. I proceeded to give a quick and dirty explanation of a 3D printer, must to the amazement of fellow travellers around me who must have thought, “This guy is definitely going get arrested today or at least miss his flight.”

The security person wasn’t convinced with my explanation and was starting to believe that I was making a fool out of him. He took the 3D print to his senior who took half a second to look at it and immediately threw it into a box of confiscated items filled with cigarette lighters.

I protested as respectfully as I could and asked the senior to look at the other 3D prints in my box. I have found that in life if you can’t convince someone, confuse them and something good usually comes out of it. What followed was a pretty interesting discussion about 3D printing in general and the 3D printed parts in my box. In the end the senior got convinced (or maybe got confused) and let me keep the adjustable spanner.

My job involves going around the country promoting the 3D printing solutions of my company. When I come across customers who are completely new to 3D printing its usually a challenge and the sample 3D prints I carry with me go a long way to make my job easier. But even the toughest customers don’t come anywhere close to airport security. Maybe next time I want to hire a sales person I’ll make him pass through airport security with a box of “interesting” 3D prints. If he doesn’t get thrown in jail he can have the job. ?