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3D-Printed Weapons & the Consequences (Nully's 1,000th Thread!)
Design News ^ | 12/11/12 | Cabe Atwell

Posted on 12/14/2012 7:24:22 PM PST by null and void

At-home 3D printing is on the rise, and what was once just a lofty promise is now a reality. More and more hobbyists are acquiring affordable printers, such as the Makerbot Replicator 2 and the RapMan Universal 3D (single/dual head) printer, to manufacture just about everything from toys to working clocks.

Some hobbyists have used these printers for fast-prototyping items that are controversial -- or even deadly. It comes as no surprise that some would attempt to replicate weapons systems (or at least parts of them) in an effort to create a fully functional gun. It's not exactly clear who was the first to fabricate a firearm using a 3D printer, but one example that has garnered global attention is "Have Blue," who designed an AR-15 lower receiver (converted to fire .22 ammunition), using a CAD file in the SolidWorks file format that is openly available from CNC Gunsmithing.


Have Blue's 3D-printed converted AR-15.
(Source: Defense Distributed)

After a few modifications to the original file, he set to work fabricating the receiver using around $30 of ABS filament fed through his Stratasys printer. After prototyping a small-scale model, he fabricated the full-size receiver and used it to fire 200 rounds without catastrophic failure. The proof of concept of manufacturing a 3D-printed weapon was a complete success. Now the door is open for others to try their hand at the home weapons manufacturing business.

A group of hobbyists (most of them college students) have banded together to form a company known as Defense Distributed to expand on the 3D-printed weapons systems and provide open-source software to anyone who wants it. Defense Distributed began its quest with the Wiki Weapon Project, which aims to provide all the necessary CAD software for manufacturing plastic firearms using any 3D printer. The group expanded on Have Blue's AR-15 to prove the concept of building weapons with a printer. However, instead of testing Have Blue's .22 conversion build, the group went ahead with an AR-15 conversion in 5.7x28FN, which has more firepower than a .22 but provides less pressure than the standard .223 round.

The group printed the lower receiver using Objet ABS-like filament piped through a Connex 3D printer. The printed rifle fired six shots before breaking. Apparently, the receiver's threads couldn't handle the pressure and snapped at the buffer-tube connection. The group is now looking for funding and a federal firearms license to get its project off the ground.

The problems with 3D-printed firearms aren't limited to catastrophic failure. (It takes only one bullet to kill.) There is also the issue of legality. No federal laws address manufacturing weapons with 3D printers, so anyone owning a printer could make a weapon -- even if they're not allowed to own one. The ATF considers the rifle's lower receiver as the firearm; anyone can purchase the upper receiver, barrel, etc.

The 1988 Undetectable Firearms Act prohibits the manufacturing or possession of guns that can't be picked up by airport metal detectors. This creates a loophole for hobbyists. Firearms typically require metal parts (barrel, springs, bolt, etc.) to function, and those parts can be detected. However, some companies don't want to take any chances. Defense Distributed's first attempt at funding in September through Indiegogo ended in disaster; Indiegogo froze DD's account and sent the $20,000 it raised back to the backers. In October, Stratasys terminated the group's 3D printer lease and seized the equipment from a member's home.

Like it or not, the seed of printing weapons has been planted, and the idea is sure to gain momentum through hobbyists in the near future -- until federal laws are enacted to gain control over the issue. It's only a matter of time before a printed weapon is used in a crime. Then all hell will break loose.


TOPICS: Culture/Society
KEYWORDS: 3dprinters; banglist
We are in a race for survival, personal technology, vs totalitarian technology.
1 posted on 12/14/2012 7:24:26 PM PST by null and void
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To: null and void
No federal laws address manufacturing weapons

Demonstrably false. Regardless of the method of manufacture.

Breathless hype. Laws cover this.

/johnny

2 posted on 12/14/2012 7:28:53 PM PST by JRandomFreeper (Gone Galt)
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To: null and void; COUNTrecount; Nowhere Man; FightThePower!; C. Edmund Wright; jacob allen; ...
3-D printer ping.

(and every other ping list I have to celebrate "You've posted a total of 1,000 threads and 110,110 replies." as of this post!)

3 posted on 12/14/2012 7:33:01 PM PST by null and void (Going Galt: The won't of the people)
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To: null and void; COUNTrecount; Nowhere Man; FightThePower!; C. Edmund Wright; jacob allen; ...
3-D printer ping.

(and every other ping list I have to celebrate "You've posted a total of 1,000 threads and 110,110 replies." as of this post!)

4 posted on 12/14/2012 7:33:55 PM PST by null and void (Going Galt: The won't of the people)
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To: null and void

These are more curiosities than something that someone who needs a serious gun would use.

If the materials science for these object-building machines gets beyond plastics, it might be another story. Ceramics that could be finished by baking in a home oven? Metals with some kind of hardening-amalgam properties? Or a new kind of gun that uses an ammo optimized for plastic guns?


5 posted on 12/14/2012 7:34:27 PM PST by HiTech RedNeck (How long before all this "fairness" kills everybody, even the poor it was supposed to help???)
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To: null and void

One of those has to be wrong...


6 posted on 12/14/2012 7:36:00 PM PST by null and void (Going Galt: The won't of the people)
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To: JRandomFreeper

Of course, however clandestine technologies have become easier now.


7 posted on 12/14/2012 7:36:10 PM PST by HiTech RedNeck (How long before all this "fairness" kills everybody, even the poor it was supposed to help???)
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To: null and void

(Nully’s 1,000th Thread!)

Noob.

;-)


8 posted on 12/14/2012 7:37:29 PM PST by ButThreeLeftsDo (FR: Now, More Than Ever.)
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To: HiTech RedNeck

3-D printing now has a vast pallet of materials, wax, plastics, sugar, plaster, paper, ceramics, and dozens of metals.


9 posted on 12/14/2012 7:38:46 PM PST by null and void (Going Galt: The won't of the people)
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To: null and void
It's Friday night, man, go with it. We'll sort out the bail and technicalities Monday morning. ;)

/johnny

10 posted on 12/14/2012 7:39:57 PM PST by JRandomFreeper (Gone Galt)
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To: ButThreeLeftsDo; Howlin
(Nully’s 1,000th Thread!)

Noob.

;-)

I don't think I'm anywhere near Howlin's record...

11 posted on 12/14/2012 7:41:29 PM PST by null and void (Going Galt: The won't of the people)
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To: HiTech RedNeck
Clandestine technologies have been easy since Moses was a PFC.

/johnny

12 posted on 12/14/2012 7:41:43 PM PST by JRandomFreeper (Gone Galt)
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To: null and void
I might not have 1000 threads but I pick good topics /focus/f-news/2967983/posts
13 posted on 12/14/2012 7:42:01 PM PST by palmer (Jim, please bill me 50 cents for this completely useless post)
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To: null and void

A ceramic would probably have the most promise for durability. But it needs a kiln, and would have trouble keeping dimensional stability.


14 posted on 12/14/2012 7:42:18 PM PST by HiTech RedNeck (How long before all this "fairness" kills everybody, even the poor it was supposed to help???)
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To: HiTech RedNeck
and would have trouble keeping dimensional stability.

So make a test item(s) and figure out the factor. Scale accordingly. Cooks do that all the thyme.

/johnny

15 posted on 12/14/2012 7:44:46 PM PST by JRandomFreeper (Gone Galt)
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To: JRandomFreeper

Ceramic fires by becoming glass, a supercooled liquid. It won’t just shrink or expand, it will deform.


16 posted on 12/14/2012 7:47:06 PM PST by HiTech RedNeck (How long before all this "fairness" kills everybody, even the poor it was supposed to help???)
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To: HiTech RedNeck
These are more curiosities than something that someone who needs a serious gun would use.

When things get serious these could be seriously useful.

If the materials science for these object-building machines gets beyond plastics, it might be another story.

The plastics will get even better. The intake on my car is plastic.

The failure they suffered on the 5.7mm design was snapped threads on the buffer tube. May just need a redesign to take a threaded sleeve made of metal.

The press will go ape when they realize that the Feds only track the lower (what is being made here) and that anyone can mail order the upper without a background check, etc.

I haven't read extensively about these, but I wonder who put together the trigger mechanism for their prototype. There is more to it that hitting the print button and snapping the two pins for the upper in...

17 posted on 12/14/2012 7:47:37 PM PST by Gunslingr3
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To: null and void

You have a ways to go to catch your’s truly...

All the best to you. I’m just jerking your chain.

Merry CHRISTmas!

3


18 posted on 12/14/2012 7:49:21 PM PST by ButThreeLeftsDo (FR: Now, More Than Ever.)
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To: Gunslingr3

It would imply some kind of spring. But it might be designed to use a spring that is commonly available at hardware stores.


19 posted on 12/14/2012 7:49:36 PM PST by HiTech RedNeck (How long before all this "fairness" kills everybody, even the poor it was supposed to help???)
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To: HiTech RedNeck
If the third year physics guys can't figure it out, give it to the 2nd year culinary students. They GOTTA make stuff work. ;)

/johnny

20 posted on 12/14/2012 7:50:13 PM PST by JRandomFreeper (Gone Galt)
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To: palmer
You pick outstanding topics!

can we let that one be our little secret, mmmmkay?

21 posted on 12/14/2012 7:51:09 PM PST by null and void (Going Galt: The won't of the people)
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To: JRandomFreeper

Might need to be drilled out after firing.


22 posted on 12/14/2012 7:52:12 PM PST by HiTech RedNeck (How long before all this "fairness" kills everybody, even the poor it was supposed to help???)
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To: null and void

I support you in whatever the heck we’re doing now!


23 posted on 12/14/2012 7:55:36 PM PST by Silentgypsy (If you love your freedom, thank a vet.)
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To: HiTech RedNeck
Might need to be drilled out after firing.

The culinary student, the physics student, or the rifle?

Because I've fired all three, and only drilled one.

/johnny

24 posted on 12/14/2012 7:57:30 PM PST by JRandomFreeper (Gone Galt)
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To: Silentgypsy
He's celebrating. Huzzahs and nonsense are de rigueur. It is Friday after all. Someone should take a collection for bail money.

/johnny

25 posted on 12/14/2012 8:02:48 PM PST by JRandomFreeper (Gone Galt)
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To: HiTech RedNeck
A ceramic would probably have the most promise for durability. But it needs a kiln, and would have trouble keeping dimensional stability.

I bet one could be formulated that would fire up just fine in a self-cleaning oven.

26 posted on 12/14/2012 8:08:25 PM PST by null and void (Going Galt: The won't of the people)
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To: null and void

We used to be able to see how many comments other people had made, didn’t we. I wish that function still existed; trolls were easier to catch that way.


27 posted on 12/14/2012 8:29:14 PM PST by little jeremiah (Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point. CSLewis)
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To: null and void

great thread for 1000, nully!!


28 posted on 12/14/2012 8:59:10 PM PST by bitt (The buck rolls downhill.)
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To: null and void

Congratulations on your 1,000th thread.

And on this fascinating 3-D printing technology, too.


29 posted on 12/14/2012 9:06:29 PM PST by exit82 ("The Taliban is on the inside of the building" E. Nordstrom 10-10-12)
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To: null and void
.. congrats. ;-)

30 posted on 12/14/2012 9:23:04 PM PST by skinkinthegrass (Who'll take tomorrow,spend it all today; who can take your income & tax it all away..0Bama man can :)
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To: null and void

this is a race I hope we win


31 posted on 12/14/2012 10:12:33 PM PST by Nifster
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To: Nifster

Ultimately we will.

We have them vastly outnumbered...


32 posted on 12/14/2012 10:15:05 PM PST by null and void (Going Galt: The won't of the people)
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To: null and void

and that is what I hang my optimism on


33 posted on 12/14/2012 10:32:51 PM PST by Nifster
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To: null and void
"1,000 threads and 110,110 replies. . ."

Congrats on the milestone. The 110110 posts number kind of creeps me out, though. I't's like 122112 or something. For some reason, now I can't shake off this vague sense of impending doom. . .

Nice thread choice, btw.

34 posted on 12/14/2012 10:49:46 PM PST by Flotsam_Jetsome ("Obama": His entire life is Photoshopped.)
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To: HiTech RedNeck

Laser-sintered powdered metal. Fuse with laser, drop 1 layer height, rake more powder over area, repeat until complete...

They already do this for high-level 3D manufacturing, it’s just not affordable at the home/hobbyist level.

Yet. I give it 2-3 years, max, and there will be at least a hobbyist-level laser-sintered 3D printer. For under $5K . . .or at least the equivalent of what $5K buys now (I expect hyperinflation to hit in a year or three. . . )


35 posted on 12/14/2012 11:08:16 PM PST by Salgak (Acme Lasers presents: The Energizer Border. I **DARE** you to cross it. . . .)
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To: null and void

This one would be 110,111 replies.


36 posted on 12/15/2012 4:01:43 AM PST by DuncanWaring (The Lord uses the good ones; the bad ones use the Lord.)
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To: null and void

Self-cleans get up to about 800F. Something more like a hobbyist ceramic kiln, that gets glowing hot inside, would be appropriate.


37 posted on 12/15/2012 5:18:41 AM PST by HiTech RedNeck (How long before all this "fairness" kills everybody, even the poor it was supposed to help???)
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To: Flotsam_Jetsome
The 110110 posts number kind of creeps me out

If it helps, I slowed down my commenting rate the past few days to make that possible.

...after I blew it on trying to get my 1000th thread to coincide with my 110,000th reply.

38 posted on 12/15/2012 8:53:38 AM PST by null and void (Going Galt: The won't of the people)
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To: null and void

Congrats Nully. You’re a long time loyal FReeper!


39 posted on 12/15/2012 9:47:02 AM PST by MamaDearest
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To: HiTech RedNeck

There are glasses and binders that would melt and fuse at that temperature.


40 posted on 12/15/2012 10:00:33 AM PST by null and void (Going Galt: The won't of the people)
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To: null and void; JRandomFreeper

This entire article is largely ‘breathless hype’ - folks have been making their own AKM receivers for years, and the technology is a lot more capable (the resulting firearms use the original military cartridges), a lot more simple (basically folded sheet metal with a few spot welds), AND a lot less expensive, than 3-D printers spitting out synthetic fibers. As JRandomFreeper so astutely observed, there are already many laws on the books covering the manufacture of firearms, whether in your garage, computer room, or elsewhere...


41 posted on 12/15/2012 2:02:13 PM PST by Who is John Galt? ("We are not insensible that when liberty is in danger, the liberty of complaining is dangerous...")
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To: null and void
Wow, Nully! You are Binary!


42 posted on 12/15/2012 2:19:42 PM PST by fanfan ("If Muslim kids were asked to go to church on Sunday and take Holy Communion there would be war.")
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To: null and void; JRandomFreeper; Silentgypsy

ON EVERY LEVEL

43 posted on 12/15/2012 3:12:57 PM PST by bigheadfred
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To: null and void

Congrats on your 1000th Thread!

I’m old school. Sticking to my old fashioned, bolt action Italian made Carcano, a family heirloom. It was manufactured in 1937, saw action in Greece, still fires-—AND-— I still have all my fingers. What more could I ask for ?

:)


44 posted on 12/15/2012 8:43:17 PM PST by Absolutely Nobama (The Doomsday Clock is at 11:59:00......tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock.....)
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To: HiTech RedNeck

during WW II wasn’t there something made that literally used a bed spring?


45 posted on 12/17/2012 10:31:09 AM PST by longtermmemmory (VOTE! http://www.senate.gov and http://www.house.gov)
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