May.16, 2013

Just a week after the release of blueprints for the world's first fully 3D-printable gun, numerous tests have been done to prove that anyone can now create a functional handgun with a 3D printer. Last Friday two journalists from the British newspaper The Mail downloaded the blueprints, built the gun and smuggled it on to an Eurostar train.

The Finnish Broadcasting Company Yle has also successfully printed a replica of "Liberator". Journalist Ville Vaarne downloaded the blueprints and went to Aalto University in Espoo to get it printed out. The gun was printed with a printer costing some 15,000 euros, using ABS plastic. Kivi Sotamaa, Director of the Laboratory of Digital Design at Aalto University, believes anyone can get such a printer and print out whatever they want. And in the next few years the price of 3D printers will only become cheaper and cheaper.

It took them 30 hours to print out all the parts. For testing the gun, Vaarne paid a visit to Ikaalinen, the only gunsmith school in Finland. Teacher Jorma Lahteenmaki helped him to assemble the gun. "It wasn't terribly difficult (to assemble the gun)", said Lahteenmaki. "(But) the instructions could be a little better. With a little adjusting the parts fit all together."

The gun test was performed in a controlled testing facility in Ikaalinen, and police were notified of the test in advance.

The plastic gun broke after a single shot. The barrel broke down and the cartridge case was cracked. "The frame has fallen apart, one part around the barrel has come loose." said Lahteenmaki. "You can't fire this anymore."

Finnish police officials expressed shock at the results of the test. "Legislators should be concerned now," said Inspector Ossi Kujanpää of the Tampere Police to Yle. "Producing these should not be allowed under any circumstances."

Watch here the video showing the Finnish Broadcasting Company Yle successfully printed and fired a shot with the "Liberator".

Forbes has recently published an article about some DIY gunsmithes modified and upgraded the Liberator Pistol. Andy Greenberg writes:

Travis Lerol, a 30-year-old former military software engineer in Glen Burnie, Maryland, printed his Liberator (shown at right) within days of its appearing online. Unlike the original printed gun, he says he's altered his to have a rifled barrel, a move designed to avoid the National Firearms Act, which regulates improvised and altered weapons and has a provision covering "smooth-bored" pistols. He's also built another version of the barrel for .22 ammunition that uses a metal insert for reinforcement, instead of the entirely-plastic barrel for .380 rounds used in Defense Distributed's original. And he's cast versions of the Liberator's barrel in epoxy that take .380 and .45 ammunition, a design he argues will be more durable than the pure ABS plastic Defense Distributed tested."


"When the Liberator came out, I was pretty curious and also surprised that the barrel hadn't exploded when they fired it," says Lerol. "I want to progress it from the entry level it's at now to something more advanced, and then put that information back up to share."

The blueprints have been ordered to pull from the Internet and New York congressmen Steve Israel and Chuck Schumer have both called for the renewal of the Undetectable Firearms Act to ban any gun that can't be detected by a metal detector. And California state Senator Leland Yee wants to stop people from being able to print out firearms with 3D printers.

The "Liberator" is not reliable or durable, and the technology is in its infancy. The fear here is in the technology's potential to build reliable, accurate weapons at little or no cost. Though that future appears to be a long way off, it is just a matter of time - in a few years this technology will mature. Americans are looking for ways to reduce access to guns, and things could go very wrong if they are not well handled. But with the wave of 3D printing, achieving such a goal may be getting harder than ever - how can you restrict or regulate open source technology which can be accessible globally?


Posted in 3D Printing Applications



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EriK wrote at 12/30/2013 8:25:12 AM:

Again these stories are so ridiculous. "Legislators should be concerned now," said Inspector Ossi Kujanpää of the Tampere Police to Yle. "Producing these should not be allowed under any circumstances." I guess they figure in order to make a gun you HAVE to possess a 3D printer.. People react so funnily when scared of the unknown. Gas pipe and simple hand tools,anyone can make a gun thatll kill as many people as they intend to shoot.. Ossi Kujanpää you are an uninformed dolt. find a new profession.

Chris Peters wrote at 5/21/2013 3:34:54 PM:


Disappointed Engineer Near Glen Burnie wrote at 5/16/2013 2:04:58 PM:

Argh - Travis Lerol lives only minutes from me. That means there's some guy working on improving, and sharing, yet another difficult to detect weapon. Why do people feel the need to do that?

ThatGuy wrote at 5/16/2013 1:00:55 PM:

A gun that shoots only one shot, isn't a gun, its a bomb- that you have to set off while holding it. Not exactly the best idea. There are countless ways to take common household items and turn them into a single shot firearm. Of course we'll have to restrict the printing of pressure cookers also.....

Naser wrote at 5/16/2013 3:00:14 AM:

They need to try PLA, its a lot more durable than ABS even thought ABS has higher tensile strength but its more brittle.

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