Powerful Crossbow Is Almost Entirely 3D Printed

As it turns out, it’s not feasible to print an entire crossbow yet. But [Dan]’s crossbow build does a good job of leveraging what a 3D printer is good at. Most of the printed parts reside in the crossbow’s trigger group, and the diagrams in the write-up clearly show how the trigger, sear and safety all interact. Particularly nice is the automatic nature of the safety, which is engaged by drawing back the string. We also like the printed spring that keeps the quarrel in place on the bridle, and the Picatinny rail for mounting a scope. Non-printed parts include the aluminum tubes used in the stocks, and the bow itself, a composite design with fiberglass rods inside PVC pipe. The video below shows the crossbow in action, and it looks pretty powerful.

Actually, we’ll partially retract our earlier dismissal of entirely 3D-printed crossbows, but [Dan]’s version is a lot more practical and useful than this model. And for a more traditional crossbow design, check out this entirely hand-made crossbow.

19 thoughts on “Powerful Crossbow Is Almost Entirely 3D Printed

  1. Is the creator not sharing the design files (or at least the STLs) to print/build this?

    I’ve got to say, seeing hacks we can’t replicate doesn’t seem to be in the spirit of the site.

  2. “Non-printed parts include the aluminum tubes used in the stocks, and the bow itself,”

    I.e. 95% of what makes the crossbow. The parts that actually are printed are superfluous to the operation of the bow, and can be substituted with a simple piece of wood with a notch cut in it. A popsicle stick levering around a wood screw works the trigger. That’s the kind of crossbows we built as children – with nearly identical PVC tube bows as well. It was heavy enough that 10-yo. me had to struggle to pull the string back.

    It’s really underwhelming to see people apply modern technologies like 3D printing to a thing that can be easily made from a piece of scrap plank by a child, and not achieve substantially better results.

    1. +1 Completely agree. “almost entirely” must equate to 5% when using common core math……

      With the amazing potential of 3D printing, it is saddening to see such yawn inspiring projects made with them. Just because you can make something by 3D printing parts of it doesn’t make that something ingenious.

      1. I think there’s a cultural divide here.

        In the old days the biggest challenge was to make a thing that works, out of parts and materials you had available. Today the “makers” simply copy someone else’s plans without thinking, throw an Arduino in it, done.

        The culture has gone from function over form to form over function. The more important bit now is the picatinny rail and the nice skeleton backstock rather than the optimal placement of the bow to the arrow to get the thing to shoot straight and the string not to drag along the rails.

        More attention is paid to the spit and polish because that’s all you do. The things that actually make it work are simply assumed to exist by fiat of someone else either selling it or giving you exact plans on how to make it, which is why nobody pays any attention to the cleverness (or not) of the actual construction and rather just focus on how the cosmetic bits are 3D printed.

        1. Also, people have forgotten how to make stuff “on the knee”.

          Even the simplest things are made on a laser cutter or water jet, or indeed a 3D printer, because for goodness sake you can’t just clamp a piece of plywood to a table corner and apply a coping saw and some sand paper. Oh my, that would require one to learn some hand-eye coordination, and that’s just too hard.

        2. Better tools means not having to reinvent the wheel every time. Some people enjoy it one way, others are different. Since both ways can be fun and edumacational in their own way, I wouldn’t say either is bad.

  3. I agree with dax for the most part. People have to get a little creative with shapes and how things are applied, but my guess is once polymers and polymetal printing takes off is where that creativity will shine. Would be interesting if someone made a crossbow that could shoot lightning or something.

    1. Not too late for Donald Trump’s America! Bringing serfdom into the 21st century!

      Seriously though, 3d printing is looking to upset the status quo and does move the means of production into the hands of the proletariat.

      Not suggesting this is the rise of marxism (well I am suggesting it’s a possibility…) but I think history books written about this time will note a DIY mentality that is expanding in part because of the increased ease of use, and ease of access to information (to replicate some one else’s work with a level of precision that hobbies in woodworking or metalworking of yesteryear could not)

    1. @Shpoople
      To use picatinny attachments?? We’re not talking about skeletonized stocks on a cowboy lever action or other such tacticlol nonsense. The rail is actually useful, especially for folks who have some optics lying around.

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