Skip to comments.3D printing may spell the beginning of the end for gun control
Posted on 08/06/2012 7:03:09 PM PDT by JohnPierce
The lower receiver of the gun pictured at the top of this article was not purchased from a licensed dealer, nor was it purchased from an individual.
This lower was printed using a 3D printer and it may spell the beginning of the end for the gun control movement.
3D printing is an emerging technology that has been commercially available for some time but is only now achieving inroads into the consumer market. 3D printers are in fact computer controlled material handling systems that lay down successive layers of polymer or other material based upon a computer model to make a 3D object; in this case, a lower for an AR.
Once costing tens of thousands of dollars, advanced 3D printers such as the MakerBot Replicator are available today for under $2,000 and the price is expected to keep dropping as consumer damage increases.
And thanks to engineer Michael Guslick, who printed the lower pictured above from a design of his own creation, 3D printing of functional firearms has moved beyond the realm of the possible into the actual; and things will never be the same again.
Michael first posted details of his creation on AR15.com but the story quickly spread across the internet where numerous commentators, myself included, have discussed the legal and public policy ramifications of this inevitable step forward.
One of the comments on the AR15.com thread summed up my feelings quite nicely; If we can spread this core technology to every kitchen tabletop, there will no longer be a meaningful way to restrict and infringe on the private civilian ownership of modern firearms.
Even Mark Gibbs of Forbes magazine couldnt help himself from noting that, from this day forward if guns are outlawed, outlaws will have 3D printers.
I remember spending about that amount in today’s dollars just for a minimally useable used b/w laser printer.
I’d hate to think what the polymer refills cost!
I have drawn some parts with Solidworks that were made this way. It is a very cool process, but I could make something just as functional with an antique Bridgeport.
On one of the videos I watched, they stated that the polymer refill kits are about $150 which isn’t bad at all. :)
All it needs is the capability of molding hardened steel rather than plastic, and there ya go.
But it’s printing a polymer, right? So would you use the plastic piece as a pattern to cast a final steel lower?
The prices are on the Internet. For example:
The UP! personal 3D printer from China, is designed and marketed to be an affordable and portable 3D printer for home use. It costs around $1500 for the fully assembled printer, with refill plastic costing around $50 per kg. It has a resolution of 0.3mm.
It's not dirt cheap, but it's cheap enough even if you want to make a garden gnome, let alone a firearm.
You can buy polymer lowers for $99
There are companies that will print steel, ceramic, glass, rubber and other items if you email them a SolidWorks file and money. So the lower or revolver frame or whatever does not need to be polymer.
Power To The People through 3D printing
This was beat into the ground a few weeks ago. While 3D printing (aka stereolithograpy as we called it 25 years ago when I first used it) is very cool and now very affordable, it’s a bit step from printing a lower receiver on a professional grade SLA to millions of home 3D gunsmiths. Especially since a lower does not a rifle make. And let’s not forget that skilled tradesmen have always been able to make everything, including the lower, with conventional machine tools, and always will.
Next step is an open source 3D printer
I agree. But I see this as a turning point from a public policy perspective as much as from a technology perspective.
“...the price is expected to keep dropping as consumer damage increases...”
What does that mean, “consumer damage?” Is this a new phrase for an old idea. I Googled it and got a lot of stuff about insects that consume and damage plants....
You can print with metal as well.....
I’m not an expert, but doesn’t the lower contain the components necessary for an AR15 to be converted to full-auto? Seems to me that would make for a sizable black market for just lowers.
I’d imagine that one could just as easily create an AR15 ‘lower receiver’ using a CNC machine. There isn’t much to an AR receiver. I’d imagine someone with a CNC and the right type of metal could make the things all day long. As with the rest of the parts of the rifle(except for maybe the barrels).
I’d imagine an AK47 would be even easier to make, because their tolerances are so much more relaxed.
Still a bit pricey but that will come down as everybody makes 8-shot stainless .357 cylinders with aluminum frames.
I wondered that as well. I think it’s “damage” to the price caused by the ramp-up of production you get when a line of products move into the consumer market. Like computers and printers that were 10’s of thousands of dollars in the early 80’s.
But I suppose it could be some kind of typo....