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Million-Dollar Deal: The Scanner That Can Find 3D Printed Guns Metal Detectors Miss

June 5, 2014

by Alison Coleman for Forbes

A year on since the first 3D printed gun made media headlines, what was dismissed by some as a ‘toy’ is now a sobering reality, with print templates for these weapons available for anyone to download.

It’s the kind of threat to security that gives organisers of global events like the World Cup in Brazil, serious cause for concern, but thanks to a small British tech firm, it’s one they have a solution for.

Radio Physics Solutions (RPS) has developed a scanner that can detect plastic firearms made on a 3D printer that would slip through conventional security equipment based on metal detection.

The innovative technology has also stirred up investor interest; RPS has just secured funding through private investors and equity crowdfunding platform SyndicateRoom.

Based in the UK’s West Midlands’ ‘Cyber Valley’ so called for its growing cluster of innovative, small cyber security companies, RPS specialises in making imaging devices that use extremely high frequency radio waves to ‘see’ through obstacles and clothing.

The technology was initially developed by British university physicists to help undercover police identify armed London gang members.

Mirtle ((Millimeter Radar Threat Level Evaluation), as the detector is known, can detect a concealed plastic gun made on a 3D printer within a couple of seconds, up to a range of up to 25 metres.

It is currently being tested by the US military for efficacy at spotting explosive devices being carried by potential suicide bombers.

Effective counter to security threats

“This will be an extremely useful tool in removing guns and explosive devices being carried by people,” said RPS Chairman Lord Douglas Dundonald.

“The added benefit of crowdfunding of course is the exposure that it provides. It is a hugely effective marketing tool and since launching the funding round we have had several people contacting us, and a number of larger investors now looking to get involved with us later this year.”

With the working capital they need secured, RPS can focus on bringing Mirtle to market – and there is a huge, global market for this technology, from mass transport hubs to government buildings and major sporting venues.

Stop and search with more certainty

Another key market for the scanner is stop and search or ‘stop and frisk’, which has caused huge issues in the New York City mayoral election.