Feeds

World's first 3D-printed metal gun 'more accurate' than factory-built cousin

Don't worry, you can’t make one of these at home

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

The world's first 3D-printed metal gun has been produced – and we're told it's more accurate than its factory-made counterpart, but also much more expensive to manufacture.

3D metal gun

We come in piece(s) ... the world's first 3D-printed gun

The printed gun – a .45 caliber M1911 designed by legendary gunsmith John Browning and still in use by some US armed forces – was manufactured by 3D-printing specialists Solid Concepts using publicly available plans. The only parts there weren't printed were four small springs and the magazines, the firm's VP of marketing Scott McGowan told The Register.

"It's very accurate indeed," he said. "We gave it to our resident gun expert and after firing a few rounds with it, and a commercially available version, he found the printed firearm was more accurate on the range."

Here's the weapon in action:

Youtube Video

McGowan said his company isn’t trying to tout this as a replacement of traditional manufacturing techniques, merely a showcase to demonstrate what was possible with 3D printing in metal. The cost of the printed firearm is many times that of a traditional model, and the equipment needed to do it is highly specialized.

3D printing in plastics may be simple enough for home use, but metals are something else entirely. Once a design has been completed, four powerful lasers are used to fuse layers of powdered metal in the desired shape, layer by layer. The final object is then heat-treated and polished before use.

This isn’t the kind of kit you can have in your garage. The power requirements alone are well over what is available in residential neighborhoods and the printer itself is very expensive. But the cost is coming down fast, McGowan said.

The company was able to build the gun legally because it has a federal license for the manufacturing of firearms. The US government is getting very strict about such licenses in the wake of the kerfuffle when hobbyists produced a printed plastic gun dubbed "Liberator," and put the plans online.

As El Reg's military expert Lewis Page pointed out at the time, the Liberator isn’t much of a firearm. It's barely accurate, prone to self-destruct, and has to be reloaded after each shot. Solid Concept's model is as good, if not better than the real thing, and does show the potential of 3D metal printing. ®

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
Xperia Z3: Crikey, Sony – ANOTHER flagship phondleslab?
The Fourth Amendment... and it IS better
Don't wait for that big iPad, order a NEXUS 9 instead, industry little bird says
Google said to debut next big slab, Android L ahead of Apple event
Microsoft to enter the STRUGGLE of the HUMAN WRIST
It's not just a thumb war, it's total digit war
Ex-US Navy fighter pilot MIT prof: Drones beat humans - I should know
'Missy' Cummings on UAVs, smartcars and dying from boredom
Netscape Navigator - the browser that started it all - turns 20
It was 20 years ago today, Marc Andreeesen taught the band to play
A drone of one's own: Reg buyers' guide for UAV fanciers
Hardware: Check. Software: Huh? Licence: Licence...?
The Apple launch AS IT HAPPENED: Totally SERIOUS coverage, not for haters
Fandroids, Windows Phone fringe-oids – you wouldn't understand
Apple SILENCES Bose, YANKS headphones from stores
The, er, Beats go on after noise-cancelling spat
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.