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. ®

New hybrid storage solutions

More from The Register

next story
Half a BILLION in the making: Bungie's Destiny reviewed
It feels very familiar - but it's still good
Apple's big bang: iPhone 6, ANOTHER iPhone 6 Plus and WATCH OUT
Let's >sigh< see what Cupertino has been up to for the past year
Huawei ditches new Windows Phone mobe plans, blames poor sales
Giganto mobe firm slams door shut on Microsoft. OH DEAR
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Get your Indian Landfill Android One handsets - they're only SIXTY QUID
Cheap and deafening mobes for the subcontinental masses
Apple's SNEAKY plan: COPY ANDROID. Hello iPhone 6, Watch
Sizes, prices and all – but not for the wrist-o-puter
DARPA-backed jetpack prototype built to make soldiers run faster
4 Minute Mile project hatched to speed up tired troops
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.