Why You Shouldn’t Care About The All-Metal 3D Printed Gun

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Solid Concepts, one of the world’s largest rapid prototyping outfits, just printed a gun. Unlike previous 3D printed guns like the Liberator, this 3D printed version of an M1911 is made out of metal. It’s a real gun, with rifling in the barrel – something the Liberator doesn’t have – and has the look and feel of what the US military has been using as a service pistol for decades.

The Solid Concepts 1911 was made using the selective laser sintering process, using a combination of stainless steel and nickel-chromium alloys. Every single part of the gun, save for the spring, was 3D printed without any machining. It’s an impressive feat of rapid manufacturing – firing .45 ACP rounds, this gun will see 20,000 psi every time the gun is fired. It’s already chewed through a few magazines so far, and it apparently shoots pretty well, to boot.

Here’s why you shouldn’t care.

Solid Concepts business is to make things using rapid prototyping. They make everything from plastic baubles, tooling for injection molds, architectural models, and stuff that doesn’t get past the prototype stage. This 3D printed 1911 is simply a demonstration of Solid Concept’s capabilities, nothing more.

The printer used to manufacture this printer is an EOS SLS printer that costs many tens of thousands of dollars. Our limited research can’t pin the price of the printer down more than that, but let’s just say you could buy a very, very nice sports car for the same price, and we’re not talking about that awesome ‘vette down at the Chevy dealership.

This is just a neat little advertisement, that’s it. Someone at Solid Concepts realized if they made a gun using 3D printed parts, it would be picked up by blogs and wire services. They were right. It’s an excellent demo of what Solid Concepts’ capabilities are, but that’s just about it. You’re still not able to manufacture an M1911 on a desktop 3D printer, and even if you could, you could set up a machine shop in your garage and end up with a similar product for less money.

As an aside, and this is just me throwing an idea out there, can we please stop using guns as an example of what 3D printing can do? I respect your right to manufacture, own, and operate a gun, but as I write this paragraph, I’m cringing at the thought of all the pro and anti-gun comments this post will see.

If you’re looking for a way to demonstrate your 3D printing prowess, how about something like an engine? Given the right design, they’re more complicated than a gun, and a really small Wankel engine would be really cool.

Video of the Solid Concepts 1911 available below.

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UK Cops Fear Gun; Pointlessly Seize 3D Printer

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Above, according to the greater Manchester Police force, is a 3D printed gun. Well, the rozzers say it’s merely a trigger for a gun. In part they’re actually correct; it is a trigger. For a spring-loaded extruder for the Makerbot Replicator.

For the past few days, the media has been abuzz about the first seizure of a 3D printer (a Makerbot Replicator 2) in Manchester, UK during a raid on suspected gang members. Despite numerous complaints and comments by makers across the UK (thanks, guys), Assistant Chief Constable [Steve Heywood] says, “We need to be absolutely clear that at that this stage, we cannot categorically say we have recovered the component parts for a 3D gun.” The seized 3D printer parts are being sent to ballistics experts to determine if a random piece of plastic can be used in the manufacture of handguns.

Alright kiddos, editorial time. We’re quite aware that the UK is a little…. different… than the US when it comes to firearms regulation. Nevertheless, we feel the need to defend anyone with a 3D printer, in a handy Q&A format:

What this has also done is open up a wider debate about the emerging threat these next generation of weapons might pose.

No, it doesn’t. I don’t know what the British equivalent of a Home Depot is, but I could go to that store, buy some stuff, and build a zip gun. Of course I wouldn’t, because that’s not safe. I could also use a mill and lathe to make a proper gun.

But it’s made of plastic and thus undetectable

Bullets aren’t. Also, I could machine some Delrin. You should really watch In the Line of Fire.

But plans for 3D printed guns are available, making it easy for anyone to fabricate their own gun

Yeah, and Hackaday made one. There were a lot of problems with those 3D printer files. The spring wouldn’t slice, the hammer wouldn’t print, every part was out of scale, and you’d need a lot of experience in 3D modeling and design to turn those ‘plans available on the Internet’ into something you can send to a printer.

Your posting this article further sensationalizes the role of 3D printers in gun control.

You’re right. Here’s what you do: every time someone mentions 3D printed guns, say, “You can build an even better gun with a combo mill/lathe that costs the same as a 3D printer. Equal skill is required to operate both machines. Do you intend to ban the sale or use of machine tools?”

But UK gun laws are weird.

Then print a knife.

via reddit

Hackaday Links: Sunday, August 4th, 2013

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[Craig Turner] shows that simplicity can be surprisingly interesting. He connected up different colors of blinking LEDs in a grid. There’s no controller, but the startup voltage differences between colors make for some neat patterns with zero effort.

Remember the 3D printed gun? How about a 3D printed rifle! [Thanks Anonymous via Reason]

While we’re on the topic of 3D printing, here’s a design to straighten out your filament.

It takes four really big propellers to get an ostrich off the ground. This quadcopter’s a bit too feathery for us, but we still couldn’t stop laughing.

This Kinect sign language translator looks pretty amazing. It puts the Kinect on a motorized gimbal so that it can better follow the signer. We just had a bit of trouble with translation since the sound and text are both in Hebrew. This probably should have been a standalone feature otherwise.

Work smarter, not harder with this internal combustion wheelbarrow. [via Adafruit]

The first 3d printed gun has been fired, and I don’t care.

3d-printed-gunSeveral people have sent us this story. I’ve seen it everywhere. A lot of people are upset, on several sides.  A gun has been 3d printed that can actually fire a round.

First, we have people scared that this will bring undetectable guns to people who wouldn’t have had access before. Then we have the gun fans that are reacting to the others with shouts of freedom and liberty and stuff.  The 3d printing community has had mixed reactions, but many are concerned that this will harm 3d printing in general.

I simply don’t care.

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