Nov 24, 2015 | By Alec

3D printed guns are definitely the most controversial topic within the 3D printing community (far more so than, say, bioprinted stem cells), and have been so since appearing on the scene in 2013. At the time, Defense Distributed’s Cody Wilson presented the Liberator gun to the world, causing a lot of consternation about very little. After all, all properly functioning 3D printed guns that have since appeared featured metal parts (therefore being difficult to conceal), while this fully plastic Liberator has been as dangerous for your own fingers as for the people around you. In many tests, a single shot proved enough to destroy the barrel, making it hardly suitable for terrorists and the like.

However, it looks like the next generation of 3D printed guns have just arrived, and do so in the shape of a revolver made by mechanical engineering student James Patrick. While his PM522 Washbear .22LR revolver has been under development for some time, he has recently shared a YouTube clip of the gun actually being fired multiple times. To our knowledge this is the first successfully tested repeating firearm that is completely made through 3D printing technology. To be fair, it does include a few elastic bands as well, a firing pin, and a few metal rods in the handle to form the legally required amount of detectable metal – but it’s very impressive, and a little scary, nonetheless.

The mechanical engineering student has been working on this project for a few months and as he explains on his website, it was born out of challenge set by the guys over at FOSSCAD. To make this even more challenging, he set a few goals for himself during design: it had to be safe, 3D printable on a Rostock Max or smaller model 3D printer, feature as little non-printed components as possible (that should be easy to obtain) and feature a double action or double action only mechanism. It also had to be capable of firing a caliber of.22LR or larger, be ergonomic, simple to use, easy to maintain with additional 3D printed parts and be durable. It also had to be able to fire at least four shots. ‘That's a pretty long shopping list. I spent a lot of nights sketching on paper and modeling in Autodesk Inventor and came up with this PM522 Washbear revolver,’ he says.

And the design he has come up is brilliant in its simplicity. Using a six or eight chamber pepperbox design cylinder, it can not only be fired eight rounds, but the cylinder can be replaced with another six or eight chamber, making it very functional indeed. So how does it shoot? Well, once the cylinder is loaded in place, elastic bands are used to attached to the trigger to turn the cylinder and line up the next round. Pulling the trigger moves the cylinder into place, pulling back the striker. When the trigger is pulled back completely, the striker shoots forward and strikes the firing pin – shooting a round.

It’s a very clever and remarkably safe design – Patrick has even incorporated a safety measure for when the trigger moves back into its resting state. It stands off-center, preventing accidental firing. Through a number of iterations, he has also improved the mechanisms as much as possible. ‘In version 1.1, the firing pin would hit the rim and create a vertical notch. The firing pin would still be under tension and it made rotation of the cylinder difficult. In version 2.0, the firing pin will create a horizontal notch and the rim will be able to slide sideways out from under the firing pin. This should make the pistol cycle much more smoothly,’ he says.

More importantly, it features a series of black bars that strengthen the entire body and help prevent delamination of the cylinder core – which should give this gun quite a long life. ‘High-strength epoxy or acetone welding is used to bond these parts into a single unit,’ Patrick adds. When fully 3D printed, it takes over 20 hours to 3D print (using a lot of filament), though he has also built a hollow version that is largely filled with resins and takes just an hour or two to manufacture. While that version was too damaged for use after firing six shots, it was definitely a promising concept.

The real success, finally, came with a version featuring no tension rods. ‘I also tightened up the headspace, hoping that the front and rear of the cylinder would contact the frame when fired and the frame would take the pressure. FP has printed this version in Taulman Bridge (a nylon filament),’ he says. As you can see at the end of the clip below, it fires very well indeed.

That success definitely suggests that 3D printed guns are fully back on the agenda, especially as the student has made his 3D printable files available for free on his website here. As you might remember, Defense Distributed was forced to remove their files from their website, while lawmakers everywhere are looking into making even the ownership of such files illegal. In short, this isn’t the last we’ve heard of this revolver.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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K.W. wrote at 11/25/2015 5:39:55 AM:

Keep publishing this type of freedom. Otherwise, "We The People" are controlled by those with the guns. If you disagree, you are naive and know nothing of history. Wake Up! Guns don't kill people, but tyrants with guns do.

Pragmatists Against Cowards wrote at 11/25/2015 4:39:08 AM:

Publish it all. "Just say no" can learn the lesson of his hero, Nancy Reagan. Prohibition doesn't work. You can't stop the files from existing. I think I will go home and print another gun.

Dustin wrote at 11/24/2015 11:18:42 PM:

Awesome, I'm going print one, with or without approval from the empire.

Bemused Bob wrote at 11/24/2015 4:48:50 PM:

Actually this shit is of interest as its FREE SPEECH I detest the idea of limiting people to research and develop these items. It really is down to the individual HOW it's used, this should not be dictated to us by others. YES, the terrorist have won as they are shutting down our FREEDOM.

just say no wrote at 11/24/2015 11:29:49 AM:

Stop publishing this shit.

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