Solid Concepts 1911 DMLS (courtesy The Truth About Guns)

I have a love-hate relationship with 1911s. On one hand, what’s not to love? Even the least well-made 1911s offer superb ergonomics, a crisp trigger and low-recoil, enabling deadly accuracy. The best of the breed have the same “if it looks right it is right” aesthetic you find in an Alden yacht or a McDonnel Douglas DC-3. Holding a 1911 puts you in direct, physical contact with John Moses Browning’s genius; connecting you to more than a hundred years of combat and personal defense. On the other hand . . .

1911s are heavy. The trigger’s too light for self-defense (where you’re highly likely to subconsciously “register” the trigger). They’ve got an external safety (which adds complexity to presentation). They offer limited capacity. And they’re not as reliable as a modern polymer pistol. All of which makes 1911s sub-optimal carry guns best reserved for experts and target shooters. That said, I’d carry the Solid Concept 1911 DMLS (Direct Metal Laser Sintering) in a New York minute, if only because of the way it was made.

Solid Concepts 3D printed 1911 DMLS (courtesy The Truth About Guns)

Austin’s Solid Concepts fashioned the firearm from a digital model using a three-dimensional additive process. Instead of removing bits of metal from metal to create gun parts (the standard production process) SC’s printer adds material in successive layers to build up the parts. The computer-controlled manufacturing technique allows for relatively easy, rapid and inexpensive gun making. In the real world, plastic proves the point (e.g. Cody Wilson’s single shot Liberator). An all-metal 3D printed firearm? Not so much . . .

The German EOSINT M270 Direct Metal 3D Printer that created the all-metal 1911 cost Solid Concepts $600k. Argon and nitrogen gas, cutting and hand tools added another $400k to the bill. The printer disgorged the 1911’s parts in 34 hours using stainless steel, Inconel (extractor, firing pin, hammer, hammer strut, grip safety, main spring guide rod, sear and disconnector) and SLS Nylon 12 Powder (grips). (The main spring, grip screws and bushings, and trigger stirrup are the only pieces that weren’t 3D printed.) The completed gun required about a week-and-a-half (part time) to hand finish and assemble.

The business end of the Solid Concepts 3D printed 1911 DMLS (courtesy The Truth About Guns)

The Solid Concepts 1911 DMLS may cost a bomb—the prototype is priceless—but it signals a sea-change in the way guns are made. The 3D printing process will make metal firearms prototyping and manufacture simpler, faster, cheaper and better. High-quality gun making will become more available to more people more easily. The trend could democratize gun manufacturing, spelling the end of gun control as we know it. Or signal the beginning of ever more draconian anti-gun persecution.

Which brings us back to New York, whose newly enacted seven-round limit on pistols symbolizes government’s desire to rob Americans of their natural, civil and Constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms. As much as Solid Concepts’ Eric Mutchler seeks to distance his handiwork from political ramifications, the 1911 DMLS is a slap in the face of Empire State statists; a technological warning shot across the bow of gun grabbers everywhere. [Click here for an interview with the gun’s creator.]

The best part of holding the SC 1911 DMLS: it feels completely normal. There’s no indication that it’s anything other than a bog-standard 1911. Like all full-length 1911s, the DMLS feels perfect in the hand. The grip safety moves forward with predictable ease. The magazine (not 3D printed) slips into the mag well without complaint. The slide slides satisfyingly, chambering the first round with chunky satisfaction. The safety snicks off as expected. A gentle trigger squeeze and the DMLS throws lead downrange. Wash, rinse, repeat, done.

Standing a good forty yards from the target on a bone-chilling day at Best of the West, Eric Mutchler was ringing steel like Rob Leatham—if Rob was freezing his ass off in a howling gale. The DMLS prototype’s only mechanical problem: occasional ejector issues. Your humble scribe had more luck (with reliability) and no such luck (hitting a target at rifle distance with a handgun). I blame incipient hypothermia and the DMLS’s tiny if historically faithful GI sights. Sensibly enough I moved [a lot] closer and did some point shooting, hammering a pie plate-sized group into Mr. Transparent Organ’s vitals.

Target shot by Solid Concepts 1911 DMLS at 10 yards, rapid fire (courtesy The Truth About Guns)

Would I bet my life on Solid Concepts’ 3D printed ballistic brainchild? After a bit more finishing, tinkering and smithing, sure, why not? Various shooters have run over 1300 rounds through the 1911 DMLS without the gun exploding once. And Eric Mutchler’s no dope. As a former Navy machinist, he knows lives can depend on fully functional machinery. Eric wouldn’t be running the gun so hard, passing it to new shooters like a Rastaman sharing a joint at a reggae concert, if he didn’t have complete faith in its structural integrity.

Solid Concepts 3D Printed 1911 DMLS (courtesy The Truth About Guns)

Besides, the thing’s worth a fortune intact. Eric could stop shooting the gun now, declare victory and cash the check for the company. But he won’t for many more thousands of rounds. And then, when Eric’s satisfied that he’s established proof of concept, the first Solid Concepts 1911 DMLS will fall silent and head for the Smithsonian—should the museum have even a small understanding of firearms history. Or the NRA Museum, whose curator is all about the DMLS. After that, wealthy collectors will get their shot at buying the prototype’s progeny at, say, $20k per gun.

Not that new owners’ homies will “get it.” Shooting the SC 1911, it’s easy to forget you’re firing an enormously important firearm. The 3D printed DMLS looks and feels like a “real” gun. The fact that it’s a 1911 only adds to the sense of intellectual complacency. If the DMLS looked futuristic—like Wilson’s blocky Liberator or Chiappa’s steampunk Rhino—the world’s first 3D printed metal gun would have a more immediate, visceral impact. But make no mistake: the 1911 DMLS is a literal piece of history. And those strange new guns are coming, too.

Defrosting in the Merc, one of Solid Concepts’ customers showed me a curious piece of metal. The small disk has six cogged wheels inside a larger, cogged wheel, with interlocking teeth. The device emerged, fully formed, fully functional, from a 3D printer. It illustrates an important point: 3D printing opens up a whole new world of engineering possibilities; the chance to create firearms that will take the art and science of gun making to the next level. All it needs is the next John Moses Browning. Watch this space.

SPECIFICATIONS:

Caliber: .45
Barrel Length: 5.0″
Overall Length: 6.85”
Weight: 2.25 lbs
Finish: Shot peened
Capacity: 8+1
Price: Not for Sale

RATINGS (out of five stars):

Style * * * * *
John Moses Browning’s best is still more than good enough.

Ergonomics * * * * *
See: above.

Reliability * * *
Extractor issues caused many a MALF but these things can be fixed in post. And it didn’t blow up once.

Customizable 
Yeah. No.

Carry * * * *
Slim and sexy and too damn heavy—unless you like that sort of thing.

Overall Rating * * * * *
An enormous historical achievement by a guy who knows and loves guns. We are not worthy. Or are we?

[Click here for more pics of the 1911 DMLS photos. Click here for videos of the gun in action.]

92 Responses to Gun Review: Solid Concepts 1911 DMLS

  1. There is one way and that it’s forward. I dream of a day where we see the true next gen firearms without the NFA.

  2. “1911s are heavy. The trigger’s too light for self-defense” ; Many many MANY are going to disagree with you, myself included.
    NYPD “Panic pulls” their 12# glocks all the time so I don’t think the trigger is going to make as much a difference as training.

    “And they’re not as reliable as a modern polymer pistol.”
    Disagree also; I have seen 1911’s run as well if not better than a typical “polymer” pistol once you learn what it likes to eat. My S&W 1911 didn’t like critical defense ammo, so I don’t feed it that and it runs like a top.

    Otherwise good review

    • +1

      The 1911 may be the world’s most combat tested pistol. No one knows how well a polymer will hold up when abused by an infantryman in the field. It is a police pistol. Just because some European miltaries use polymers doesn’t make them a combat pistol. The sidearm is more a symbol of authority in European armies than an actual weapon of war. In Euorpe the actual killing is left to the “lower orders.” As late as WWII the US was the only military where company grade officers were armed just like the troops. In units like airborne troops even the commanding general carried a long gun. Maxwell Taylor carried a carbine and James Gavin carried a Garand.

      • You are 100% historically speaking. Hence why your example went up to WW2.

        It had a lot to do with the practicality of engagements. Prior to that, think of the long rifles soldiers used. Engagements that were close enough for a side arm to be useful weren’t the most common and if you were that close, it was bayonet time. Think of the U.S. Civil War.

        But that was horribly out dated and the Europeans were slow with the uptake and not to mention, after decades of devastating conflict I speculate, not keen on the idea of outfitting every soldier with a second gun when some struggled to keep up with the primary and ammo as it were.

        Obviously, I’m no expert on every one of the European military’s but those Glock seem to be doing well with what ever crap you feed them. I’m no fan boy by any stretch, don’t even own a Glock now. But I’ve never seen a story start with “Glocks are totally reliable…as long as you don’t….”

        1911’s are great and I completely disagree with the assessment on the trigger pull. As previous post notes, 10+ lb trigger pulls don’t seem to do the NYPD any good. But for one, the point about infantrymen side arms is moot. No one here is seriously involved in outfitting hundreds of thousands of U.S. soldiers with a sidearm. For the individual all things being equal, (not considering things like whether Glock’s lack of external safety matters, if you’re already more familiar with the 1911, etc.) modern polymer frame pistols seem a much better choice.

        On the subject of the military, those metal frames break a lot. I’ve heard some nasty stories about the POS hand-me-down Beretta’s. One advantage to polymer frames? They’re WAY cheaper to make. So they might not last getting passed around like a “joint at a Reggae concert” for decades quite as well, but it’d also be easier and cheaper to replace which would probably be better. Aside, completely ignoring that even aside from the metal frame debate or not, it doesn’t mean the 1911 is better.

        There are disadvantages to Glock/polymer pistols for sure. There are also a lot of disadvantages to 1911’s. Lord knows if I’m going to shell out the money on a handgun, it better work fine out of the box. The amount of times I’ve heard “1911” and “break in period” has confined it to a range gun for sure unless I want to shell out an ungodly sum for a beautiful one that works only as well as a $500 Glock.

    • +2.

      I get a hoot every time someone claims the 1911 trigger is “too light.”

      How many cops have red-legged themselves with a Glock now? I’ve long since lost count.

      How many cops red-legged themselves with a S&W revolver or a 1911 40 years ago? It was so rare it would make the front page news – and the cop would often be relieved of duty.

      I carry a Glock because I like my 1911’s more than I like any Glock. If I have to surrender a Glock to the police after a DGU, I will shed not one tear, I will not give it so much as a wistful sigh as I hand it over. “Here, take this piece of compressed cheez-whiz,” I shall say.

      Hand over a nicely tuned 1911 or a increasingly expensive S&W revolver? Then I’d be PO’ed.

      • You’re more afraid of losing your 1911 than getting red-legged? I’m personally comfortable with Glocks but if I weren’t then I wouldn’t put a hunk of metal above my leg.

        Since you’re a gunsmith maybe you can help fill in some blanks in my knowledge below.

        For a modern polymer gun the barrel lock up can accommodate quite a bit of tolerance. Pretty much the barrel shroud fits into the ejection port and that’s about it.

        For a 1911 the upper barrel lugs need to engage the slide properly. The barrel hood needs to fit pretty tightly both side to side and front to back in the ejection port. The bushing needs to be fit right. The lower lugs need to fit right and have the precise curvature for riding on the slide stop. The link also needs to be fit right. So, I can see that a 1911 fit correctly will work well. But, given manufacturing tolerance in conjunction with not much hand fitting and I can see where problems begin. Someone will say something about the old reliable loose fitting 1911s that were so great. But, given the constraints of the design, it seems to be it would be less tolerant to loose fit. Will it really link down properly across many pistols with lots of part tolerance?

        Another point is that for a service pistol, I would think you want something which you could swap parts with no fitting in order to keep a whole team operating.

        • Sure. It did and continues to do so. Modern pistol companies wanted to tighten everything up, and once you start this process in some areas, things start to “cascade” through the design. eg, Start playing with the link length to get more engagement of the lugs into the slide, and a whole host of things have to be played with as well.

          The original tolerances on the 1911 (and the Springfield 1903/1903A3, the Garand, the M14/M1A, M1 Carbine, etc) were all loose enough that a) they were reliable and b) that parts could interchange from gun to gun all day long. All those rifles, when new, would shoot to 2″ groups, with issue iron sights, when new. I have 1903A3’s, with original 2-groove barrels, that lay down 2″ groups at 100 with M2 ball ammo – and I have no idea how many rounds have been through that A3. I’ve put at least 800 through it. Most all GI 1911’s I’ve seen would shoot to 3 to 4″, maybe slightly more, groups at 25 yards off a rest with 230gr ball ammo. That’s more than acceptable combat accuracy, IMO. A really tight 1911 should probably shoot to less than 2″ at 25 yards for the cost and trouble.

          The factories that cranked these weapons out were typically holding +/- 0.002 on most parts, which is pretty remarkable in hindsight (this was in the days before DRO’s, before ballscrews, etc – never mind CNC), considering the rate at which they were being cranked out. 1911’s didn’t need to be hand-fit when using the original GI parts. You took a bunch of parts, slapped them together, tested the slide to fall, tested the lockup, tested the hammer, tested the disconnector, the manual safety, the grip safety, the magazine hold-open… then cycled a magazine through it and if all tests passed, you were pretty much done. No one got their panties in a wad about how much the barrel wiggled at the front (or rear) of the gun. If it locked up and the slide cycled, it was good.

          The bullseye and bowling pin shooters started the trend of tightening the 1911 up, starting with the front bushing, back in the early 70’s or so. Then everyone started trying to out-do everyone else, and pretty soon you have people asking for crush-n-peen jobs, then custom links, then… and a whole new industry was formed.

          The sad fact is that most pistol shooters can’t shoot to the ability of a GI 1911 at 25 yards off-hand, much less the potential of a tightened 1911. But most 1911 buyers just know they have to have a tight 1911, and it had better look cool, too.

          As for red-legging myself with a Glock: I’ve got a bit more experience with guns than most cops, I don’t have a “respect my authoratah!” attitude, I love dogs and I don’t do steroids… so I’m not that worried about shooting myself.

    • I liked the review and that is amazing that you can 3-D metal print a pistol too! As for John S. you are partially correct that anyone can panic pull a trigger if they try hard enough, but the trigger pull on a Glock usually averages 5-6 LBS not a double action type 12 lbs. Just wanted to put that out there since I enjoy both Glocks and 1911’s.

  3. How rare do my loves of reggae and firearms get mentioned in a single article!
    Like was said above, any reasonable trigger could be used for self defense, those damn 12 lb NYC “Lets Shoot Some Bystanders” triggers seem to be the standard for inaccuracy 😀

  4. I’m a total computer ignoramus, so don’t laugh….
    Just what is involved in creating the software for a printed gun? Can you just dismantle an original and “scan” the parts, or does the operator have to make a complete set of “digitalized” plans to work from? When the price comes down on these things enough for a small business to afford one, it would be great if the “scanning” option were available. I’ve always wanted an affordable Webley-Fosberry Automatic Revolver.

    • You can do both. Traditionally you would model the part in 3D CAD, export it and print it.

      There are now (actually have been for a long while, I’m just drawing a grammatical blank onhow to say it without parentheses) laser scanners that produce a 3D point cloud. That gets interpreted into surfaces, which get thickened into parts, which get printed.

      The scanners are used mostly for extremely complex shapes. The plans for the 1911 parts are widely available, and gun parts are relatively simple, and I would wager they went the CAD route.

      • Generally speaking, the point cloud/laser scanning method is not accurate enough (though that changes on a month basis). The real issue is undercuts and other areas of a part that may get missed by the scanner. Point cloud data is raw data, and always needs cleanup – at which point you are better off using it as reference and building straight CAD parts. CAD software can actually check and simulate movement and part interaction – even calculating stress and friction data for a given material/part.

        With CAD drawings of so many firearms available, and the ubiquity of good software, any enterprising individual could design a new firearm or even just modify and existing one.

        Keep the technology free from constraint, and it will do the same for us.

        • Every imported model needs some level of cleanup, some moreso than others. Especially since a point cloud will get you a surface and you need it clean enough to either thicken it or fill it with a volume.

          My point was more about how, in general, gun parts are simple enough to model from scratch. I did about a year ago with a 1911 print package from the 30’s I found somewhere. I made it roughly halfway, then realized that SW and I were never going to get along when it comes to lofts……

        • A “point cloud” is, well, a map for lack of a better term.

          Done by laser (highly dependent on who’s laser) they are just as ISO accurate as using a contact CMM with a Renishaw probe. If your laser can’t (accurately) cut the mustard, you can use a FARO Arm to manually generate those data points.

          It’s a frakkin’ 1911, guys in Darra Pakistan caves file fully functional ones by hand…

    • I bet the cartels will; to make new firearms for their own use and for black market sales.

      I see endless opportunity.

      • I don’t know…the cartels don’t have any issues getting firearms now. $600K would be truckloads of AKs or AR’s (with “thank you for shopping with the ATF” stickers on them) for most of these guys, I bet.

      • The cartels have the procurement department for the entire Mexican military and Federales to supply them weapons, much less what they smuggle in through Guatamala or Africa or the ATF. They don’t need to mess with this tech.

  5. The antis will rant and rave about how this is the the worst idea ever they will tell us its not safe and say we have no need for 3d printed guns they are just afraid in this tech they see the potential end of all gun control everywhere

  6. ARGH! I was so close to heading up to BotW, but the cold kept me home. I want to put a round through that thing so badly!

    Great writeup! Thanks.

  7. This also represents a HUGE leap forward in the R&D section of most firearms manufacturers. Think of how many ideas have been shelved due to the astronomical cost of designing a working prototype coupled with the horrible prospect of said one off piece failing immediately.

    I think as the tech becomes more readily available we’ll start to see some designs that stray farther from the mold than what we get now. This may be the gateway to the next advances in firearms design, not just a statement about the enduring spirit of freedom.

    • Well, yes and no.

      There’s no impediment in the machining phase to the development of new firearms. The real problem is that firearms are a mature technology, and most Americans in the gun buying public are cheap SOB’s who wouldn’t recognize quality in firearms if you dropped a Cogswell & Harrison on their heads.

      The brutal truth is that while you all like to complain about quality, you’re not willing to pay for quality. And in that environment, what’s the point of developing new firearms designs?

      I mean, seriously. When you have a bunch of fanbois wandering around, buying (and then peddling) the Glock marketing pablum of “Perfection” hook, line and sinker… what’s the point in designing, much less tooling up for production of something new?

      • I see and agree with your point for the most part but I was focusing more on the “outside the box” designs. Some designs(in many fields) look like they may or may not work when on paper. Anything that lessens the potential risk or monetary outlay for a project like that gives it a better chance of seeing the light of day.

        I doubt anything like the Criss would have ever seen the light of day if CAD and 3d modeling were not available so what doors could this open up? If it becomes affordable enough for the above average designer to make a tangible prototype without any machining skills whatsoever it may change the game a bit.

        Instead of thinking about entire firearms, consider the mechanical interactions of just the small parts and how some seemingly small ideas have caused huge changes in thinking and firearm design. To keep with the 1911 theme…. What about the locked breach/link setup? Someone had to come up with the design first and in one way shape or form hundreds have followed over the years.

        • Hell, it sounds to me like the future holds what the present does not — made-to-order pistols. How would you like a brand new C96? How about a Bittner Repeating Pistol? Or a cherry Steyr-Hahn M1912? In the future, anything could be yours…

      • Most new technology starts out pricey, but with exposure, market demand driven by desire, time and proliferation becomes common.

        Look at flat screen development over the years.

        And product is only limited by imagination and engineering capability.

        RPG anyone?

        • That idea works in the computer field, where one can keep upgrading at the same price point as the industry can pack more gates into a chip die with every upgrade in gate density.

          The idea doesn’t apply so well to physically constrained stuff like machining and manufacturing of things made out of metal. What 3D printing in guns will enable us to do is make parts that are strong due to un-machinable interior matrices of materials (imagine being able to make a barrel out of a circular lattice/web of sintered steels, instead of a tube – imagine being able to print the internals of a suppressor, etc) but the metal “dust” won’t become a whole lot cheaper, and the process probably won’t get a whole lot faster. The machines might become somewhat cheaper, but the number of companies who have the chops to make these machines (the real ones, that can print real objects with a 250W laser) isn’t going to grow like mushrooms overnight. Look at the CNC machine industry for examples of what I mean. CNC machines haven’t become exactly cheap in the last 20 years. They’ve become better, they’ve become more powerful due to more advanced s/w in the controllers, but you’re not about to go down to the corner hardware store and find a 5-axis DMG VMC on sale in the tools aisle.

          That said, 40 years ago, a 200W laser was impossibly expensive and required a honkin’ large power supply. The advances in laser technology have brought lots of this DMLS into the realm of being even possible in a common office setting.

        • Depending on your longetivity and bandwidth specs, a 200W CO2 laser is chump change if you can DIY some simple-ish power supply pieces. And by chump change, I mean under $5K. That’ll readily and rapidy work 316 SS powder.

          You’re very right, the thing that matters is being able to print those hollowed-out sections. Personally, I’m doing a frame and slide that B. Fuller would appreciate…

          The DIY folks are in for about 1% of that $800K invested in DLMS. Printing metal guns has been going on for a while, and it’s neat (sorta) that SC did one and pimped it out. But, there’s a plethora of maker issues with SC, not the least of which is their attempted claiming patent on void printing.

          Thankfully, the PirateBay/4Chan mentality of today’s yoots regarding IP will likely overwhelm them.

      • Because it’s part of human nature for people to keep wanting to build new Ideas. It’s almost pathological in some cases, but new designs will always come. Both the Steyr and the Caracal were developed in the environment of Glock fanbois because a guy thought he had a better idea.

        There are more than pure business considerations that go into running a business. Sometimes the profit is just there to fund some guys experimentation.

    • My own idea of super cool? Luger toggle action, re-designed trigger mechanism, double stack magazine, ramped up to .50 GI. Drool!

  8. While I certainly applaud the use of new technology to advance the art of gun making I have to say that I hope that this tech is used for other projects. Like building replacement parts for arms that you just can’t get any more. Like a C96.

    • A distinct possibility, since the need for fixtures and tooling is almost non-existent with this technology. And those are your major cost barriers that keep anyone from doing reasonably-priced one-off parts.

  9. This pistol is truly a technologically significant step forward. I’d love to have one, and to shoot the heck out of it – one can’t have too many 1911s in the vault!

    That said, I think it’s humorous that folks are wetting their pants over the printed plastic, and now laser sintered firearms, but had absolutely nothing good to say about the MIM parts (an equally advanced technology) that manufacturers started using in guns a few years ago. If you bought a new Colt or other pistol with MIM parts, the various gun forums would have you believe that if you didn’t instantly go out and replace the sear, hammer, etc. with tool steel parts, the gun was a walking time bomb.

    Now we have fully-sintered pistols, and everyone is agog over the cool technology. How times have changed!

    • Most of what one can read on “gun forums” about materials, engineering and machining of gun parts does nothing to educate. Most of the people writing this twaddle aren’t gunsmiths, they aren’t engineers, they’re not machinists, they’re not even serious students of guns and gun technology, and to put it quite frankly, they don’t know how to locate their plush buttocks with one, the other or even both hands.

      But man oh man, they sure know how to sling a line of BS out there on the interwebs.

    • The people freaking out about S&W using a MIM barrel in the new Bodyguard 380 is hilarious.
      Like they are gonna put a barrel in thats gonna explode on you

  10. I’m actually looking at a Masters in Manufacturing Systems Engineering. I LOVE 3d printing and want to be on the forefront of bringing it into every factory and home in the nation. Though I have yet to actually buy one, heh. It just captures my imagination.

  11. Ok, someone help me out please. Not to seem stupid but I can understand a plastic object being 3d printed and fabricated. Printer lays down layers of resin or whatever plastic and the object is formed. Is this the same concept with metal? Is the printer laying down layers of a molten metal……Machining a piece of metal, your taking metal off. How are they “adding” metal when 3d printed? I would guess it’s sintered? Is this correct?

  12. After years of reading articles about vintage firearms that ended with, ” of course, the manufacturing processes and hand-fitting mean that a gun like this is too expensive to manufacture today”. Does this technology mean that Lugers and 1927 Thompsons can be printed at reasonable costs (when economies of scale are applied)?

    • Probably not until DMLS printers become so cheap that you could set up a gallery full of them for $100K and start cranking out $3K guns at a rate of one every 10 days per machine.

      The rate at which these printers function is pretty slow. If you gave me all the CAD/CAM s/w support, and the two or three vertical machining centers and a CNC lathe that I could buy (all together) for the same price as one of the above DMLS printers, I could crank out a Thompson or Luger much faster than the DMLS printer can.

      The problem in both cases is that even in both cases (CNC or DMLS printing), both of the above guns need a bunch of hand fitting and polishing, no matter how you make the parts. No one wants to pay for hand polishing any more, and there’s very few ways you can machine-polish highly irregular and odd-shaped parts.

  13. I almost got shivers looking at that geared widget in the last photo. That thing looks amazing! So it actually came out of the machine like that, assembled and functional, you say? That to me is a beautiful piece of art. I can’t even fathom the possibilities that the future holds with technology like that.

    Unconstrained by elitist overlords, of course. Le sigh…

    • Yea, that’s one of the neat things about even the plastic 3D printers. You can do stuff like:

      – print ball bearings that will roll. I mean, real balls, inside of two races, and the balls roll.
      – sliding parts fit together that slide.

      In the plastic printing market, there is a corn-starch-based “support goo” that gets laid down by some printers that you can dissolve in a post-print bath to allow parts that needed to be free of surrounding parts to move. For prototyping, it is really, really slick stuff. You can print an assembly that has moving parts all in one go, drop it in the post-print bath and a couple hours later, take it out, shake it off and start playing with your prototype.

      I’m not sure how they do this in the DMLS printers, but I’m sure that they want to be able to deliver that functionality, because it is a huge upside of 3D printing for prototyping.

  14. If they somehow manage to solve the density and surface quality differences between a 3D printed metal part and one made by a “conventional” method I’m in to sell a couple of redundant organs and buy myself a printer, as it will the end of all other production methods short of CNC mills and maybe lathes for finishing operations. Until then forging and investment casting remain the best cost(plus volume and time)/quality alternatives today, or a CNC mill if you are low volume and/or too poor to afford the infrastructure of the former options.

  15. Metal 3D printing may turn out to be the next big thing, or it just may be the technological equivalent of an electric fork.

    And let’s face it — traditional gunnies are suspicious about technology. If you don’t believe me, just ask them about MIM parts and watch them blanch as if they just detected a sour fart.

    Still, manufacturing innovation should be encouraged even if it leads nowhere.

    • If technological innovation were left to gun users, we’d still be heat treating steel by eye, using case-hardened malleable iron for frames and using black powder for propellant.

  16. I agree with him in principle.
    Looks fantastic, accurate, points well.
    Heavy, low capacity, hammer bites into my overweight abdomen ( similar to high power).
    I own a 1911 and High power, but carry a Glock

  17. I understand it’s a prototype, but what’s with the gaps between the frame and the back of the trigger, and the grip safety? Don’t want to bash it too harshly, but fit and finish isn’t quite there yet from looking at the pics.

    I applaud them to no end for leaving off front cocking serrations though!

  18. Speaking of 1911s; does anyone know if the 10 round magazines are considered reliable, or not? Thanks in advance.

  19. It’s about time the gun industry becomes aware of this cutting edge tech…..dmls has been around for awhile. I’m glad to see someone really pushing the envelope with it.

    That being said a table top cnc mill and some inexpensive software(student license or downloaded) can do most of this…and with an entry price that is reasonable for someone looking to really make a BA home machine shop….

  20. 1911s always reminded me of Harley Davidsons. They’re technologically outdated. They’re overpriced. They are made of steel instead of plastic and aluminum so they’re overweight and unwieldy. They’re not reliable. And everyone who owns one thinks that they’re awesome and everyone else is shooting/riding a complete piece of sh!t.

  21. Wow, that’s a lot of opinions to pack into the second paragraph. One might do well to just separate that out to a separate article instead of cluttering an otherwise decent review.

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