Apr. 1, 2015 | By Simon

Similar to paintball and laser tag, soft dart blasters such as those made by Nerf have provided hours of group battle entertainment for both kids and adults alike.  But just like any other product that’s fun to modify and make your own, 3D printing has made it possible for a new generation of makers to create their own soft dart weapons ranging from traditional “blasters” to crossbows and and even archery-style bows.  The activity of modding existing Nerf blasters or creating a new design from scratch is so popular that it even has its own popular website where the community can share hacks, stay updated on designs and release their 3D print files.

Among those who are actively involved with creating their own soft dart blasters from scratch is the cleverly named duo Mostly Harmless Arms (MHA).  

Led by 3D printing enthusiasts Ryan and Kane, the small company creates 3D printable Nerf-styled blasters that, aside from fasteners, can be nearly 100-percent fabricated using a 3D printer.  The team even goes so far as to create their own darts using a dart mold that is also of their own design.  

Ryan and Kane recently were in attendance at the Midwest RepRap Festival in Goshen, Indiana where they showed off their Extension Spring Latex Tubing (ESLT) Blaster, which is the most effective blaster that MHA currently produces:

The ESLT blaster features a design that allows a user to look directly down the barrel for better accuracy when firing.  Additionally, the use of an extension spring makes priming easier than compression spring-based blasters and can shoot the MHA silicone-tipped darts much farther than traditional Nerf darts.  Although the blaster isn’t 100-percent 3D printed, the team used the technology to create the ergonomic handles.   

While the custom-built ESLT blaster can be purchased on an order-by-order basis, it is based on an earlier iteration of a similar blaster that the team has released all of the necessary SLT files for in the case that somebody might want to create their own 3D printed soft dart blaster.

In total, there are 14 print files that are “fairly easy to print with the exception of the handle”.  According to MHA, the ideal 3D printing setup for creating the blaster would be to have two extruders with one printing the actual handle and the other printing support material that doesn’t stick to ABS.  To get around this aesthetic shortcoming in the case that a dual-extruder 3d printer isn’t available, the duo (who themselves don’t have a dual-extruder 3D printer) used tape wrapped around the handle to make it more ergonomic and eye-friendly.


While the 3D printed components make up a large portion of the assembly, the rest of the parts are made from various sizes of PVC piping and hardware that was sourced from McMaster-Carr.


For those who want to create an entire arsenal of customized soft dart weapons, there are also in-depth instructions for the rest of the duo’s designs.  While not all of them are built with 3D printing in mind, their open source nature makes it possible for those interested to remix the working designs with some 3D printed details of their own.  Additionally, MHA also offers all of the parts pre-printed in the case that somebody may not have access to a 3D printer but wants to try their hand in assembling one of the blasters.

Remember -  just like with any other object that fires projectiles - eye protection is key.  Perhaps this might be a good opportunity to create a pair of 3D printed eye protection glasses, too?

You can check out Ryan and Kane’s full collection of customizable soft dart guns including any provided 3D printable files over at Mostly Harmless Arms.  



Posted in 3D Printing Applications


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