First working 3D-printed firearm built
As the technology improves, 3D printers are being used more and more to create a wide variety of objects, some incredibly useful (like skeletal implants) and some just for fun (like custom robot figurines). Here's another - somewhat controversial - example of just how ubiquitous this technology could become: a working gun built using an AR-15 rifle part made with a 3D printer.
The gun maker, going by the name "HaveBlue," constructed the AR-15's lower receiver - which holds many of the gun's main components, including the trigger assembly and magazine well - using a modified design from a gunsmithing website and an older model Stratasys 3D printer. Since the existing design he started with was intended to be made out of solid metal, HaveBlue altered it a bit by strengthening some of the lug holes and adding a trigger guard. He then printed the design with ABS plastic and used a conversion kit to assemble a .22 pistol.
Amidst protests from an AR-15 discussion board that the part would fail and seriously injure him, he successfully fired 200 rounds using the 3D printed lower receiver without any trouble. To test it further, a metal AR-15 upper receiver was attached and a few shots fired with a higher-caliber .223. So far, the part seems to be holding up well and hasn't shown any major signs of wear.
This certainly isn't the first 3D printed gun part in existence, but it could be the first that's been made into a fully working firearm. What's important to note is that under U.S. law the lower receiver of an AR-15 (or any similar gun for that matter) is the component that is legally considered the "firearm." It's the main part that allows the gun to function, and even has the serial number printed on it for identification. Luckily for HaveBlue, making guns yourself isn't illegal so long as you don't sell or distribute them.
Still, with 3D printers becoming more popular and aimed at home use, a person being able to print their own parts for a working gun - particularly the one component that cannot be ordered through the mail - raises a number of issues. As amazing as it is that a 3D-printed gun could withstand firing a bullet, the potential for someone to build an unmarked firearm much more easily means we could see some pertinent new laws enacted in the next few years.
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That said it is interesting and good work.
Now every anti gun acvocate will come out of the woodwork calling for a ban for all 3d printers.
@Michael Mantion : The fact that 3d printers are much cheaper than full blown cnc machines and tough polymers have been used extensively in the firearms industry signifyies that 3d printers are becoming more attractive means to discreetly manufacture firearms. It is now possible to make a fullblown working assault rifle given you have the files and machine the metal parts somewhere else and no one would know.
If a 12 year old has the wherewithal to create a functional firearm using a CAD model, they may very well be the next great inventors of their generation.
That being said, the Feinstein's, McCarthy's, and Brady's will probably go ballistic over this!
Again, only government can destroy this, and if it happens, it will all be under the guise of "public safety".
while weapons are interesting in some ways, particularly because they can be illegal to obtain in the public realm but possibly to 'print' privately at home----the reality is that there are plenty of great weapons to buy that will perform far better and more reliably than something made of plastic, or pieces made of plastic.
that said PROTOTYPING weapons is expensive and 3d printing for prototyping speciality weapons or weapons modifications for BETA testing at low cost could be a real money make for people in this area who are willing to work with local armories and gun shops, or , if they make it big, with arms manufacturers and sports equipment manufacturers.
HOWEVER. when it comes to moving part machines, there are far more interesting applications for 3d protoyping than weapons. how about engines, motors, pumps, windmills, hydraulics, suspension, the list goes on....
Joe Mc Carthy would likely have loved something like this. His goal was to purge the US Government of communist infiltrators. He wasn't after communists in Hollywood, despite the constant lies about him that the movie industry and the media keep repeating.
Look up the Venona Project. that was intercepting and decoding communication between the Soviet embassy in Washington D.C. and the USSR. Venona was declassified in 1995 and the decoded documents released revealed Mc Carthy was right and there were even more Soviet agents in our government than he had found. There's still a huge amount of intercepted communications from Venona that have never been decoded. The leftists in our government got Venona shut down to cover their butts so they wouldn't end up in prison for treason.
How about Venona@Home to decode all of the Venona documents?