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

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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Making a bow from scratch

bow

With Hackaday’s new handmade category we have the option of covering a wide range of builds – everything from jet engines designed on paper and built on manual machines, to old-world crafts made with the most primitive tools. This time, we’ll be looking at making a longbow from scratch, the work of [Billy Berger], a project that covers everything from selecting a tree to tillering a bow to make the best possible weapon.

European-inspired longbows are usually constructed out of yew, but in [Billy]‘s native east Texas yew is a little hard to come by. He eventually selected a small Osage orange tree for his bow, stripped the bark, split the log, and started crafting his handmade bow.

The most important part of making a bow is ensuring the back of the bow consists of only one growth ring. With a drawknife, [Billy] carefully planed down the back of the bow so only one of the tree’s growth rings was visible, then began shaping the belly and sides of the bow.

Wood is a natural material, and when freshly cut contains a lot of moisture. As [Billy] was working on his bow, some of the moisture left his piece of Osage, leading to some twists and turns in the lumber. There’s a solution to this that mankind has been doing for millennia – fire bending the wood. By covering the wood in some sort of animal fat ([Billy] used olive oil), you can hold a piece of wood over a small frame without scorching. Using the crook of a tree as a vice, [Billy] twisted the wood, giving him a perfectly straight bow.

There’s an amazing amount of work that went into this bow, not surprising given that [Billy] is only using hand tools and primitive woodworking methods. Still, the completed bow is a work of art and a masterpiece of craftsmanship. You can check out all four parts of [Billy]‘s demo below.

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Timelapse of the 3d printed gun being printed.

Once the DoD requested the 3d printed gun files be removed from the internet, a couple things happened.

  1.   The Streisand Effect went into full force. The file was shared all over and can still be found easily.
  2.   I suddenly realized that I was going to be printing a 3d printed gun and doing another article on it even though I had just written an opinion piece about how I don’t care.

I’m not above admitting that it is childish of me. I was told I couldn’t have this thing and suddenly I knew I had to make it. I see it with my kids all the time. Toys can sit in a corner collecting dust for ages, but the second it is in threat of being removed, they have renewed interest, at least for a few minutes.

I figured, if I’m going to be childish about it and print a gun that a) won’t work because I don’t have the right printer, and b) I won’t use anyway because I don’t generally play with guns, I might as well make a fun timelapse video of the more recognizable parts being made.

It initially seemed like it was going to be quick and easy. However, I quickly found that just printing this thing was going to be a time consuming and frustrating task.

1. the scale on the individual files was way off. 

I suspect this has something to do with the printer it was designed for. It seemed very close to being 1 inch = 1 mm. Not a completely uncommon problem. Manually resizing got some files to look right, but I found many simply wouldn’t resize.

2. Almost every single item had errors.

If you’ve done 3d printing, you’ve found that a model can have all kinds of issues that will stop it from printing correctly. I found every single item for the gun had errors. I actually learned a lot about how to repair non-manifold items from this exercise, so it was good in the end.

Some items, like the hammer and the hammer springs simply would not print. I ran them through systems to repair them and fix errors. It would say that everything was fixed, but when I tried to “slice” them for printing, the software would crash.  This means that my gun is incomplete. It has no hammer. Not really that big of a deal to me.

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the whole gun

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Note that it is missing the hammer mechanism. More on that later.

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disassembled

Do I care now?

Nope. I climbed to the top of the fridge and got my cookies. I’m a happy child. The reality is that a zip gun is still cheaper, easier, safer, and more reliable.  Here’s an example.

DO NOT build a fully automatic battery-launching air gun

There’s nothing quite like [Elliot]‘s cherubic sense of wonder and maniacal laughter after he tests his fully automatic AA battery-launching air gun. That fires 600 rounds a minute. At 200 feet per second.

We need to take a minute and say [Elliot]‘s gun is stupidly unsafe. He used PVC pipe to hold air pressure, so that may… explode one of these days. Also, the AA batteries coming out of the end of the barrel have the same kinetic energy as a .22 rifle bullet.

The mechanics of the gun is a simple blow forward bolt. When he pulls the trigger, the bolt – and battery – are forced forward due to air pressure. After the bolt has cleared a plug, air is allowed to flow through the bolt pushing the battery along with it. Once the pressure in the barrel is back down to normal, a spring forces the bolt back into place and the 23 round magazine loads another battery. Simple, really. [Elliot] posted some pics of his gun on the spudfiles.com forum.

The gun is accurate to about 100 yards. It’s a very impressive piece of engineering for a bit of PVC pipe, but we don’t feel the need to copy this one. Check out the videos after the break to see this thing in action.

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Crazy slingshot guy at it again with a 220 lb steel ball cannon

80mm_slingshot_cannon

Good old [Jörg Sprave].

That guy just doesn’t quit building insane slingshots. If he’s not honing his machete slinging skills in preparation for the zombie apocalypse, he’s blowing out car windows with giant steel balls.

The huge cannon you see above is modeled off a small slingshot he made a while back, which fired 8mm steel bearings. In its larger form, the slingshot is said to be ten times the size of it’s smaller brother, firing 80mm steel balls with incredible force. In the video below, [Jörg] and his friends cart the slingshot out to a huge empty field where they run it through its paces on several different objects. Their first shot flies about 220 yards into a high tension tower, after which the boys aim their sights on an old car.

The power with which the slingshot fires is definitely impressive. With a few well-placed shots, the car is pretty much done for.

Now that we’ve seen [Jörg] fire off saw blades, machetes, and giant ball bearings, we can’t wait to see what comes next!

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Gauss Weapons

This collection of gauss weapons use rare earth magnets to accelerate projectiles to damaging speeds. They work using the same concepts as a coil gun, but instead of just one projectile travelling along a length of guide track, there are many projectiles that work in a chain reaction. A series of magnets are placed at equal distances along the track. Each has a couple of large ball bearings on the muzzle side of the magnet. The first ball bearing is fired using mechanical force – like a spring mechanism – and accelerates as it approaches the magnet due to the attractive force of that magnetic field. When it impacts the magnet it sends one of the ball bearings on the opposite side down the track where it will accelerate when it nears the next magnet in the chain. The weapon above achieves a final projectile speed of about 68 miles per hour, breaking six fluorescent tubes in a row on at the right side of the apparatus.

Still prefer rail guns that use electromagnets? Check out this gauss pistol kit that is about as powerful as a BB gun.

Assassin’s Creed blades make us wince

[TheBserk] made himself a set of auto-locking and auto-retracting hidden blades inspired by those in the game Assassin’s Creed. As you can see in the demo (and build guides) after the break, they work really well. We don’t like the idea of sharpened metal ramming its way past our wrists. But it’s not the first time we’ve seen dangerous arm-mounted hacks.

Reminiscent of Taxi Driver, [TheBserk] uses drawer slides from the local home store for his build. They are cut to length, and modified using springs for the automatic action. There is a lock to keep the blade extended, and a pull-wire to actuate it. Although dangerous, the build is well done. We think someone has mechanical engineering in his future, and possibly a trip to the emergency room.

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