Just Wait Until People Realize You Can 3D Print Firearms With Metal

There is so much gasping going around that you can “OMG 3D print a gun”.  Then people go and do shit like this:

A few rounds and it breaks? *yawn* color me un-surprised.  You can check out the full fail breakdown over at Defense Distributed.

I don’t consider myself an expert on the topic of 3D printing, but I have got prototypes made using numerous materials and numerous methods over the years.  3D printing in titanium, cobalt, stainless steel, tool steel, aluminum etc.. have been available for a while, many of which are extremely strong.  People have built everything from impellers to implants using the technology, so making a reliable AR-15 lower using these methods would be child’s play.  Granted, it’s not affordable right now for the average person to print metal at home but you can believe that will be coming.

If guns are ever banned the United States is going to have the most badass type Khyber Pass type gun markets popping up, but instead of half blind people missing fingers making guns by hand with 100 year old tools, you’ll buy your guns from good looking dudes with great hair that kick it in suits all day chilling in high rise condos with a few 3D metal printers.  They will no doubt also have female models answer the phones and greet clients.  My usual whiskey sour while I wait? Sure Rebecca, thanks for asking.

Thoughts?

19 COMMENTS

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Jester December 4, 2012 at 05:10 am

This is what we call progress. Things will break, limitations of methods will be found, changes will be made.

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Jon December 4, 2012 at 07:39 am

You need some very pricey equipment to ‘print’ in metal. Then it still needs to be hardened.
Plastic is affordable, the printers are less than $1000, and work well. Not that strong tho.

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Bear December 5, 2012 at 09:46 am

Is it perhaps a question of reinforcing it with substrates, or will that prove too hard for the printer to work on? Not well versed in this stuff, excuse the ignorance.

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Ray December 4, 2012 at 09:26 am

Inferior plastic combined with shitty “reinforcing” = this shit. He should use Nylon 9 and reinforce the parts that are metal on metal only. The way forward in my opinion is to use those small “machining centres” which are getting cheaper and cheaper and they cover just about anything you’d need for an SMG or a pistol.

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Ray December 4, 2012 at 09:28 am

The above should read Nylon 6, not Nylon 9.

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dave w December 4, 2012 at 10:34 am

So you can print a gun, ooooh. Im going to print some brakes for my car, anyone want to come for a ride on the interstate with me?
Seriously im glad he did this to prove its not a big deal.

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Carl December 4, 2012 at 11:01 am

Does Rebecca have a sister?

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enfieldem2 December 4, 2012 at 01:28 pm

Yeah, it’s the early days of this technology, but it is advancing by leaps and bounds. There have been some Ted talks lectures where incredible things have been made with 3D printers. But I see that it is going to be awhile until I can go get a barrel, bolt and some other parts and have my own 3D printed AUG clone. I am actually working on a project now where a 3D printed pistol caliber carbine blueprint is included.

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Bear December 5, 2012 at 09:49 am

What I’m wondering is this. Although this doesn’t seem to be all that durable, could they reinforce the high-stress points with metal (going to be real ugly) a-la Tapco and the improved mini-14 mags? Though, I suppoes the trauma would still break the underlying polymer.

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Chris T December 5, 2012 at 09:51 am

It’s possible of they used even a different plastic and modified the design that it would work.

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enfieldem2 January 14, 2013 at 05:45 pm

My favorite AR 15 mags are lancer M5 mags, polymer with metal reinforced feed lips. They look great and work flawlessly, I hope to se more hybrid mags and especially hybrid gun frames in the future. Although it’s quite easy to screw up such a design, the Bulgarian bullet AK mags have metal reinforcements, I am told. If so then they are in the wrong place because those mags are way too delicate even for my relatively light AK usage.

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Davey December 4, 2012 at 05:06 pm

There’s no law that says that a polymer AR15 lower has to have the same dimensions (wall thicknesses) as one made from forged aluminum. The defunct Cavary Arms lowers took some liberties with the specs. Having said that:
1. The Cavalry Arms lowers were not particularly durable.
2. Even if you “print” a frame / lower from metal alloy, I’m not sure how durable it’s going to be. There’s lots of evidence that MIM parts (and cast steel frames) may not be durable enough for high-volume shooting. I hope that printed parts are actually better.

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war December 4, 2012 at 07:42 pm

I actually work in the rapid prototyping industry in an engineering capacity. Metal rp is extremely expensive if you want any sort of efficiency. Know how much cobalt cromium or titanium powder you would need to print a lower and what the price of that metal would be? It would be worth MUCH more than the lower would be new….from a store. Metal machines in the home? It’s possible, but will only be extremely expensive to run unless you know about the metals market crashing any time soon. As for printing in plastics….. 3d systems and a few others make resins that are highly durable, heat resistant and can react to movement, impact and friction as a metal would. Formula 1 takes extreme rezin parts and puts them directly into the engine bay. Not nearly as expensive as metals, and easier to work with part accuracy to a thousandth of an inch.

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Chris T December 5, 2012 at 03:39 am

ABS/Polymer Lowers are not a bad idea. They are inherently great. Unfortunately the builders of this AR blueprint or testers of this did not research enough.

Crazy Plum Lower and New Frontier Armory lowers are both made from Polymer. However NFA found that exact spot to be a weak point in Polymer powers and turned around and reinforced it. Now we have polymer lowers that work for thousands and thousands of rounds and at times are actually more durable than the metal lowers.

This process once perfected will allow people to print AR Lower’s in the comfort of their own homes. Maybe in the future even print whole rifles excluding the barrels. Similar to the new shotgun made of polymer.

http://www.americanrifleman.org/blogs/uts-15-polymer-tactical-shotgun/

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kaflick December 5, 2012 at 01:24 pm

I don’t believe that people will be making firearms with the metal forming rapid prototype machines.

It would be much cheaper and more effective to use small CNC machines and make them the way they do now, only out of sight of the ATF.

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Andrew December 5, 2012 at 04:19 pm

Aren’t the AR57 lowers supposed to eject the brass out the mag well?

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Tom January 14, 2013 at 05:35 pm

They have carbon fiber barrels. Really cool but expensive. I thought that I saw that on one of those queer gun shows…I think American Guns. The one with the cute blonde.

Carbon fiber lowers maybe??

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