Full review with takedown and multiple rounds fired on Monday. Suffice it to say, the guys at Solid Concepts ran 500 rounds through the gun today and left Red’s range with the same number of holes, fingers and toes with which they entered. As well as a fully functional (if a bit cranky here and there) 1911.

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62 Responses to TTAG Exclusive: World’s First 3D Printed [Metal] Gun Fires 500 Rounds

  1. Yay! Red’s! Just a shout out for these guys. Great indoor range, and great people running it.

    Looking forwards to the review/takedown.

    • Indeed. I had the pleasure to visit them a couple weeks ago for the first time. Very courteous and professional.

    • In the original article/interview I read regarding this pistol they made no claims as to this being an economical way to produce weapons. Their intention seemed to focus mainly on the fact that it was possible and the durability of the metals used in the process.

      It’s no Liberator, that’s for sure! I anxiously await RF’s review.

      • Thank God it ain’t a Liberator them things are frakkin huge… oh wait to meant the lil stamped steel pistol that was barely a step up from a zip gun… yea those things were horrendous to shoot.

      • I haven’t looked at the vid, but the headline on NBCNews.com says that this puppy cost a cool $million. A little out of my league.

        • Is there anywhere where it says how long it took from loading the program and hitting “go” to having a full set of working parts? Or better yet, a real-time video of it actually printing the stuff?

    • If these become prolific, expect the gun industry to back a ban on these, unless the companies that produce them join SAAMI and other trade guilds, or maybe a tightening of the “home grown” gun industry might happen.

      I’m not blaming the gun industry, it’s just a fact. They want their money and that dictates how they behave.

  2. “3d printed [metal] gun” is different than homegrown cnc gun? wasnt aware that they made molten steel 3d printers.

      • The process they’re using is selective laser sintering which has been around functioning for quite a while and isn’t the cutting edge by a long shot.

        As to your availability of a home unit – they’re coming very soon. The DIY community has been working on this task and it’ll prolly come out around $5K initially, dropping to the $2K range in short order.

        • Precisely. Home consumer object printing will arrive some time around 2017, supplied by HP, and in likely partnership with Amazon.

          Then comes HP printers that are “jailbreaked” so they can print non-HP-Amazon stuff.

          Libs. Are. Screwed.

  3. That’s awesome! We were shooting next to you in lane 5 today, I was wondering what you guys were up to. Congrats!!

    • I read a rather complete article on this yesterday, I can’t remember where I stumbled on it, but it seemed to indicate that ALL of the parts were printed using the sintering process, including the barrel. I expect RF will have more details on Monday.

    • Yes, the barrel is 3D printed in stainless steel and was stress relieved, but not precipitation hardened. We have other materials (nickel alloys) and processes to make a more robust barrel, but we wanted this first prototype to represent the basic process without special treatment to prove the process itself is robust enough for this application. Now, ~570 rounds later, we have no reason to believe the barrel won’t last.

    • Sintering isn’t inherently weak. While almost anything can be mis-processed and lose potential strength properties, in and of itself, sintering is not a recipe for failure.

      Porsche, Ford and others have been sinter-forging con rods for decades.

      • Solid Concepts did some really good work on that 1911. That gun fits together with some pretty tight tolerances according to my buddy that works there…. I just gotta get up the energy to drive my ass down there to give it a closer look. I think it was done on their eos printer.

        • Agreed, and nice to see someone go public with one. I give them extra props for going with a 1911 – it’s such an inherent slopfest of a gun if the tolerances weren’t dialed-in it would have failed in a dozen ways.

          There’s other printed metal pistols out there, that more fully exploit the design potential of SLS. But I’m not sure that they’ll ever be put out for the wide world to see for awhile.

        • Fully functional, not a SolidWorks fantasy.

          Everyone doesn’t have whippin’ it out in public first as the goal of the game. Not discounting what Solid Concepts did in any way, I’m just saying that SLS is not cutting, let alone bleeding-edge tech. SLS found it’s way to the DIY community years ago. Which I explained way back when that stupid punk was wasting everyone’s time with thermoplastic 3D printing. There were fully functional printed metal guns even in those days, but not everyone has fame seeking as a priority.

          One of the things I do for money is make cars go fast, and while a good chunk of that market is merely about bragging that maker “x” did your car, there’s still a slice that only cares about understatement and results. Which would prefer to remain rather anonymous, regardless of our Kardassian culture. There are worlds that function differently than /b/’s childish metric of ‘pics or it didn’t happen’….

        • And you’re offering how much exactly for that info? I have no idea if you’re just trolling (just retarded) or serious, but either way, you can dig through the history and learn that I told of this happening about a year ago. It ain’t magic, but not everyone is into explaining all about the trick.

          And until you pony up serious cash, you don’t get to play in the grownup sandbox with the big boy toys. Seriously, what idiot is just gonna throw you the keys because you asked? I have no idea what kind of self-aggrandizing fools would fall for that nonsensical “logic”, but, umm, you need to look elsewhere.

          Or put up dinero in the mid-6s. Because that’s what’s in it.

        • 16V, I have nothing to offer for the info. If you click on my highlighted name and read through my blog, you’ll find that I am the one who first printed and tested the AR lower in the summer of last year that started the whole “3D printed gun” craze.

          As such, I’ve also been keeping an eye on similar developments out of personal curiosity. I’ve heard of SLA suppressors being tested, but you’re the first to mention a SLS handgun (though I suppose Magpul’s FMG-9 prototype might qualify).

          If you don’t want to share what you know, that’s fine, but you don’t have to be a jerk about it.

        • Have Blue, I’m not trying to be a jerk about it, I’m just saying that those plugged in to the DIY gun community have been working with SLS for several years now. And have moved on to the next step. Over a year ago. It was (high) shelf tech in the 90s (being developed in the 80s). And originally patented (non commercially exploited) in the 70s. It became (incredibly) cheap and easy 5-ish years ago.

          I’m just pointing out that like many other fields, those who work in them aren’t always doing it to stand up and scream “I did it first!”. There’s other reasons to accomplish things beyond drawing some fleeting attention from the mass market.

      • The powder-forged connecting rods aren’t just sintered powder as these laser-sintered parts are. The powder is poured into a die and compression-formed into a net shape as powder, then kiln-sintered. After sintering they’re hot-forged in a normal forging process. This means that although they started as powdered metal, they’re heated, forged, and cooled identically to a part that was multi-stage forged and have a corresponding metal grain structure.

        A laser-sintered powder sinters miniscule layers of powder onto previously-sintered metal. Once this process is complete, it’s complete. The lack of ability to follow-up with a controllable heat/cool cycle precludes the possibility of grain structures forming across the powder granule bonds.

        The first process “powder forging” produces metal nearly identical to regular forging with less waste, inconsistency, and fewer steps. The second process produces a metal whose integrity is more comparable to concrete, i.e. stacks of granules adhered well to one another. Sintered metal, like concrete, can be expected to tolerate compressive stress rather well, but can also be expected to undergo brittle failure when exposed to tensile stresses. The pressure experienced by a gun barrel during firing is most definitely tensile stress. It’s just that 17-4 stainless, especially if it is precipitation hardened (which this one was not), is crazy strong, albeit quite expensive. I looked into this material once when designing a suspension arm for an off-road vehicle that kept cracking ductile iron and although it was more than strong enough the cost was prohibitive even in a typical casting process. Unhardened its yield strength is 2-3 times what you can get from low-grade common low-carbon steel. It’s also almost 2x the yield of annealed 4130 chromoly steel. This proves that proper material choice is just as important in 3d printing as it is for any other manufacturing process. If this grade of stainless handles the laser sintering process well maybe they’ll get lucky and the gun will survive long term.

        • Very true it’s not entirely the same process, I was merely attempting to debunk that “sintering” in and of itself was somehow inherently weak.

          As to using 17-4 for a suspension arm, that’s a really long journey from the slightly beyond pot-metal qualities of ductile iron for that app. There’s a dozen readily available tubular products that can easily be fabbed into the Baja/F1 strength A-arm for any race project. I am curious, what company even builds suspension arms with that stuff?

          By the by, all metals can be treated after completion with cryo. Regardless of process.

    • Yes the barrel is also made using sls, I am wondering about Barrel life though that’s going to be interesting.

  4. I’ve read a bit about this, but certain details haven’t been clear. Can you clarify if all of the parts were just printed and assembled or if there was some machining required after printing? Whether that was for functional reasons like the grooves in the frame for the slide or just ascetic purposes like polishing the slide. Also was the rifling machined later or printed whole?

    • No machining, only hand finishing with commercial grade rotary tools and traditional hand tools (files, emery cloth, etc.) Rifling was printed (contained in the CAD file) and simply deburred prior to first use.

      • That’s so cool! I’ve ordered some of Solid Concept’s plastic products before, nice to know their metal products can be used as finished goods, and not just prototypes

  5. When are they going to produce the 3D sintered AR? Soon I hope.

    Good on them. They have changed the battlescape significantly. What they’ve done is to show that access to tools and technology is one of the most important means that our species has to create a meritocratic and egalitarian social order. BRAVO!!

  6. Hmm this will piss off the entire gun world… but I wonder if the lil plastic 3d printers could print a polymer 1911 frame.
    Oh how long did it take to print that whole 1911 and what in the name of Zuess’ underpants is sintering?

    • Is the model open source? Might be interesting to tweak, maybe with longer barrel with threads, or an integral compensator, or doing a double stack, or a different caliber that takes Glock mags..

      • If you could tweak the CAD file yourself I would think that printing a replacement slide/barrel with internal suppressor would be far more interesting, seeing as you can generally replace your worn barrel without having to re-register your gun. Or one day having self-service printers for gun parts, like build a bear.

        Just load up your CAD file and let the printer go! Now that would be awesome.

  7. “As well as a fully functional (if a bit cranky here and there) 1911.”

    In other words, it’s a normal 1911.

  8. Were you the first person to shoot that gun or did someone test it first? It would take a lot of confidence for me to shoot a 45 ACP through something that has never been stress tested.

    • In the earlier vid they showed a (very primitive but functional) vice style rest and actuating the trigger with a string(!).

      So they didn’t just “hey guys, watch this!”…

  9. I think that the future use of this process will include making 1-off parts for guns that are no longer supported. I see a market for accurate CAD files of parts for old firearms.

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