Nov.7, 2013

3D printing company Solid Concepts announced it has manufactured the world's first 3D Printed Metal Gun using a laser sintering process and powdered metals.

The gun, a 1911 classic design, has already handled 50 rounds of successful firing. It is composed of 33 17-4 Stainless Steel and Inconel 625 components, and decked with a Selective Laser Sintered (SLS) carbon-fiber filled nylon hand grip.

"We're proving this is possible, the technology is at a place now where we can manufacture a gun with 3D Metal Printing," says Kent Firestone, Vice President of Additive Manufacturing at Solid Concepts. "And we're doing this legally. In fact, as far as we know, we're the only 3D Printing Service Provider with a Federal Firearms License (FFL). Now, if a qualifying customer needs a unique gun part in five days, we can deliver."

The metal laser sintering process Solid Concepts used to manufacture the 30+ gun components is one of the most accurate additive manufacturing processes available, and more than accurate enough to build the interchangeable and interfacing parts within the 1911 series gun. The gun proves the tight tolerances laser sintering can meet. Plus, 3D Printed Metal has less porosity issues than an investment cast part and better complexities than a machined part. The 3D Printed gun barrel sees chamber pressures above 20,000 psi every time it is fired.

Solid Concepts says they chose to build the 1911 because the design is public domain.

"The whole concept of using a laser sintering process to 3D Print a metal gun revolves around proving the reliability, accuracy and usability of metal 3D Printing as functional prototypes and end use products," says Firestone. "It's a common misconception that 3D Printing isn't accurate or strong enough, and we're working to change people's perspective."

The 3D Printed metal gun proves that 3D Printing isn't just making trinkets and Yoda heads, says Solid Concepts. "With the right materials and a company that knows how to best program and maintain their machines, 3D printing is accurate, powerful and here to stay."


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philippebauuvieux@orange.fr wrote at 4/9/2016 9:18:10 PM:

very nice piece and that's why I'd like to buy one (at least) very nice job well done guys !

Bruce wrote at 9/20/2015 7:09:22 AM:

And folk have been making perfectly functional firearms from raw metal for four hundred years. Any decent blacksmith shop is where it all happened in the early days. Everything since is just refinement of metallurgy, industrial technology and chemistry. And many modern commercial (and "military") arms contain many parts that are investment cast, drop-forged, or machined from a billet, as the function / structural parameters require. With the correct equipment, investment casting of titanium is quite a daily occurrence. Furthermore, the technology developed to make guns has long been adopted to other products: the deep-hole drilling and reaming machinery used for barrel-making, was quickly adapted to make rams and cylinders for hydraulic gear. The nifty machines used to make revolver cylinders turned up, on a grander scale, to bore and hone engine blocks. The deep-drawing punches used for forming brass cartridge cases and bullet jackets were adapted to make everything from lipstick holders to SCUBA tanks and beer cans.

jd90 wrote at 5/21/2014 12:46:51 AM:

Vacuum for SLS? Why not an argon atmosphere? That would be so much easier.

Bri wrote at 11/9/2013 8:55:49 PM:

@Elijah There's an open source project for an SLS/DMLS machine. Turns out the laser part isn't that hard to get, the vacuum necessary is probably the most difficult part.

ElijahPost wrote at 11/8/2013 10:47:20 PM:

In you're in the US, you can just buy a gun. Save you the trouble of access, cost, and time. DMLS machines are prohibitively expensive and after 2+ years in the 3D Printing Industry, I am certain that DMLS will never be available in the home. Think about the main components of a DMLS machine. It's a giant furnace and a very powerful laser for crying out loud. Also why did Solid Concepts choose a gun? That's a great way to get attention, but not a great way to get good PR in the long run.

Fun times wrote at 11/8/2013 4:35:55 PM:

Oh, so you don't know? 3D printing will allow for making new kinds of weaponry that will use entirely different mechanisms to focus and direct energy at a target. Not just plain old firearms which can be regulated and banned as they are in most countries. Myriads of downloadable designs will appear, there will be so many of them that banning them all will be impossible, as no one will be able to track and record all the kinds of designs. This is the real power of 3D printing, not the ability to make a replica of an 800-year-old cannon.

Abdul Markowski wrote at 11/8/2013 12:13:18 PM:

i can make a fertilizer bomb that will kill dozens of people and it will cost pennies compared to expensive 3d printer, why bother.

Ben Roberts. wrote at 11/8/2013 1:03:04 AM:

Yes, you could CNC a firearm but the setup and process is much more complex than 3D printing. I think the fear with 3D printed firearms is that they can be printed out by anyone with a machine, outside any regulatory framework. Those of us with inside knowledge are less worried because we know that it would still take a great deal of understanding and skill to make a gun with SLM or another metal process, not to mention the cost of the machine!

1984 wrote at 11/7/2013 6:37:26 PM:

This is just another way for the government to put restrictions on 3D printers, i'm sure they are trying to "change peoples perspectives," but not in a good way. I just see this being used as propaganda.

CornGolem wrote at 11/7/2013 4:22:10 PM:

Well that's good, now we know where to have our guns 3D printed in metal or plastic. Do they make functional springs as well ?

Juan wrote at 11/7/2013 2:41:13 PM:

What´s with the obsession with 3D printing and guns? People have been able to CNC their guns at home for quite some time now!



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