Building A Better 3D Printed Gun

Back in 2013, [Cody Wilson] of Defense Distributed designed and built the world’s first completely 3D printed pistol. He called his gun the Liberator, after a World War II-era single-shot pistol designed to be cheap and easy to manufacture, easy to conceal, and for members of the French Resistance, ‘a great gun to obtain a better gun’.

cyl[Cody]’s Liberator turned out to be a great gun to obtain two or three fewer fingers. Not only was this a single-shot pistol, it was a single barrel pistol; with each round fired requiring a new 3D printed barrel. Tests were carried out, explosions happened, and we couldn’t even get the thing to print. For all the media hubbub, for all the concerned legislators, the first 3D printed pistol was much ado about nothing.

3D printers are still an extremely interesting technology, and if history has proved one thing, it’s that engineers and tinkerers will keep building guns. Last week, [James Patrick] released his latest design for a working 3D printed gun. It still fires the .22lr of the Liberator, but this is a double action revolver, it won’t blow up, and if you drop it, it won’t discharge. It’s the little things that count.

[James]’ revolver is either a 6 or 8-shot revolver uses a pepper-box design, where the gun has multiple chambers and barrels in one gigantic cylinder. The double action design first rotates the cylinder to the next chamber, pulls back a striker loaded up with a firing pin nail, and (hopefully) fires a round. In the video below, [James] goes over the design of his action, and ends up showing off a few test firings of his newly designed gun.

What’s very interesting about this build is how closely the development of 3D printed firearms is following the development of historical firearms. First, we had guns that probably shouldn’t be fired, ever. Now, the technology for 3D printed guns is about up to 1830 or thereabouts. Give it a few more years and we’ll be up to 1911.

Disclaimer: if you live in the US and think this sort of thing should be illegal, contact your state representative and tell them you support a constitutional convention to remove the personal right to own and operate firearms. This right has been upheld many, many times by the judiciary, and a constitutional convention is the only way your wishes could be carried out. Your state representative probably doesn’t read Hackaday; there is no need to comment here. Let’s talk about engineering and technology instead.

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3D Printed Gun is Off the Rails

There are certain topics that cause people to have knee-jerk reactions: Try asking a crowd which Star Trek was best or–around here–take a stance for or against the Arduino and you’ll see what we mean. Certainly people polarize quickly when you talk about a 3D printed gun. However, if anyone can sneak [xtamared’s] 3D printed rail gun through airport security, then some guards will have to be fired. It looks like a cool prop from a bad movie, but (as you can see in the videos below) it can project a conductive slug into a decidedly low-tech target.

There aren’t many build details, although you can deduce a few things from the pictures and the captions. At the rear of the gun is a paintball tank that gets the slug moving before it hits the rails which further accelerate the projectile. The electric part is Arduino-based and the very prominent capacitors at the front end can deliver 1800 joules of energy (and add 20 pounds of weight to the gun).

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MRRF: Mostly Harmless 3D Printed Arms

The Midwest RepRap Festival isn’t just people hanging out with their 3D printers all weekend; There are also people bringing all the things they made with their 3D printers. There was an R2D2 and half of a B1 Battle Droid, a 3D printed quadcopter and of course 3D printed weaponry. [Ryan] and [Kane] from Mostly Harmless Arms brought a collection of their totally not trademark infringing not-Nerf guns.

The guys have a few designs for guns that shoot silicone-tipped extruded foam darts much further than a Nerf gun. There’s a bow, a more traditional spring-powered blaster, and a crossbow. All the designs with the exception of a few pipes and tubes and springs are 3D printed, and all the parts are small enough to fit on an 8″ bed. The darts are made with a dome mold for silicon and insulation foam that’s normally wedged in window and door frames. They’re dusted with cornstarch to prevent sticking, although in the video below there were a few jams. That’s to be expected; there was a camera around.

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

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


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


[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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