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Printed Guns


  1. Bob Maxey

    Bob Maxey Well-Known Member

    In of all places--an Architecture or Interior Design Magazine--I found a little blurb and picture with the tag line: "the dark side of printing" that briefly explained how a clever maker used his 3D solid printer to make parts for (I think) an AR-15 to convert his weapon to full auto.

    I am not sure what he did exactly, but I wonder if this is something we should worry about, given the great materials we have available along with better 3D Solid Printers.

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  2. SIII groupie

    SIII groupie Well-Known Member

    I have heard of also but do not really understand.

    Anyone who knows more, I would like to hear.
  3. Speed Daemon

    Speed Daemon Disabled

    Seeing as these printers use a fairly weak plastic, and a semi-auto assault rifle is plenty dangerous as-is, I don't see any cause for concern. The plastic parts wouldn't last for more than a couple of cycles (shots), and might break while loading the weapon, so the only good they'd be is as forms to make metal castings that would need finishing and fitting to ensure that they work properly.

    In other words, a skilled gunsmith would be needed to make a scheme like this work. Most skilled gunsmiths could figure out how to make their own full-auto conversions if they wanted to. So it's all on the willingness of the gunsmith to break the law. That means that the increase in risk would be about zero.

    In addition, many civilian versions of military weapons (the Uzi comes to mind) that are sold in the US are made with a different operating system that makes it even harder to convert them to full auto operation. Often an open bolt operating system is used for selective fire or full auto use. Some manufacturers have made closed bolt variants that will not accept the standard full auto components.

    Although full auto has a dramatic effect, it's not necessarily a more dangerous weapon. Most full auto submachineguns and assault rifles will go through a magazine in a second or two, causing the need for constant reloading. Full auto mode makes it impossible to maintain aim, so few shots hit their mark. I'd be a lot more afraid of a skilled marksman with a bolt action rifle than I would be of an idiot with a full auto rifle that he can't control.
  4. Kamau

    Kamau Well-Known Member

    Since it's not hard to get the parts needed anyway to convert those type of guns to fully automatic, it's really a moot concern. And since kids are running into school shooting up the place, a skilled gunsmith is also not necessary to do it.
    As for accuracy, when you're shooting into a crowd of people, pin point precision is also not an issue. And let's be real about it; that's the reason one has nowadays to convert guns to fully automatic, unless they're going after Bugs Bunny. That's one slippery "wabbit".
  5. Bob Maxey

    Bob Maxey Well-Known Member

  6. Bob Maxey

    Bob Maxey Well-Known Member

    I think I will disagree for the time being. Admittedly, I should not disagree because I am not an expert in this area.

    We have water-jet cutters, laser cutters and 3D printers. As the tools develop, demands for better materials will likely bring all sorts of stuff to the workshop.

    I can see extremely strong materials coming to a printer near you because the machine costs are cheap and I can see people wanting to forgot milling to take advantage of something any idiot can use.

    Perhaps that is a big part of the problem
  7. SamuraiBigEd

    SamuraiBigEd Under paid Sasquatch! Moderator

    This is a moot point since you can already get the parts black market to do a full auto conversion for a lot cheaper than the investment to make the parts with a 3D printer.

    Unless someone was wanting to mass produce and distribute these parts it would make absolutely no sense to do this and as Speed Daemon stated, the parts would not be strong enough to hold up to the weapon cycling from any printer the average person could afford.

    Sure, if you want to spend hundreds of thousands on a laser plotting printer with composite plastics it might work, but the even remotely affordable units would not hold up. "Cheap" machines are still thousands to tens of thousands of dollars.
    Speed Daemon likes this.
  8. Bob Maxey

    Bob Maxey Well-Known Member


    Perhaps today, but unless you live in a cave, you might have noticed that tech improves, evolves and becomes cheaper and better in short order. No reason to say a desktop "gun factory" could not become available with far stronger materials becoming available.

    I can see the need for a DT 3D printer for making strong parts. And where there is a market, there is a product to fill the needs.

    I'll say making a working gun that lasts is just a matter of time. I do know a little about laser cutters and ten years ago, they were costly. Now they are a thousand dollar investment for the do it yourself person.

    We already have diodes you can use to make cutting laser pointers and that was not possible twenty years ago.
  9. chris4x4

    chris4x4 Well-Known Member

    *downloading the schematics to an Dillion mini gun*
  10. Kamau

    Kamau Well-Known Member

    That's would be a simple x-ray of my mother-in-law's mouth. That thing can lay waste.
  11. Granite1

    Granite1 Zercron Encrusted Tweezer Moderator

    Nanolithography is on the rise because the item can be produced with no waste. That is the single most important point of this tech. No waste.

    Manipulation on a molecular level IS the future. Believe it or not, nanotech will be the next great explosion in human technology and evolution. It can also weild the horrors only dreams touch. It's both exciting and scary what will be possible.

    3d Printing is just a scratch on the surface, the beginning.
  12. kevincott

    kevincott Well-Known Member Contributor

    I am prior ARMY that used the M16 extensively. The bottom receiver of my AR15 would have to be partially re-milled to accept parts for full auto. To my knowledge other lower receivers are similar.


    End result is it is not as easy as dropping new parts in.



    Also as previously mentioned the new parts need to be extremely durable otherwise they might fail on even the first shot.
    Speed Daemon likes this.
  13. Satires

    Satires Well-Known Member

    Anything is possible, when you're a machinist. Tooling, mechanical aptitude and a garage type mill or lathe (With creative clamping abilities) can get any job done.

    Any experienced machinist can produce your components. Unless you your self have the experience and mechanical aptitude, you can create what ever you wish.
  14. Bob Maxey

    Bob Maxey Well-Known Member

    I understand that, but those are skills most hobbyists will never develop. With a 3D printer, not much brain power is required. Yes, there is a learning curve, but it is not as steep as learning to use a mill, lathe and the like.
  15. Bob Maxey

    Bob Maxey Well-Known Member

    I agree. No telling what the future holds.
  16. Satires

    Satires Well-Known Member

    Take it this way, I built an automatic transmission on my first try. If one is so inclined, those skills are easily aquired. Tenacity is king my friend, especially in the right mind (Hands).
  17. Satires

    Satires Well-Known Member

    Exactly why man needs to vanish from nature.

    Man keeps f*cking with sh*t he knows little to nothing about!

    God! I hope you exist! lol Get your tail down here and end this nightmare! lol

    I truly mean that...
  18. Bob Maxey

    Bob Maxey Well-Known Member

    We are very smart and our build quality is high. Our design lets us do many things. We were given intelligence so if mother nature has a problem, tell her to chill because she gave us the tools and brains to FU the world.

    And certainly, we are not all that bad. We do not have the power to destroy the planet. The planet will be here after we are gone. We do not need to vanish from nature. If you are all that concerned, you can end it all. :D

    As for God, he gave us the smarts to do many things. If he exists, he will decide when to stop it. Until then, remember that he has a plan and only he knows when enough is enough.
  19. Bob Maxey

    Bob Maxey Well-Known Member

    And I built a Heathkit color TV when I was a wee lad and I learned to repair Marchant mechanical calculators early on as well. Some people can do things and others are hopelessly lost.

    I could probably build a working gun old school. But if there was a desktop manufacturing solution, I know I could do it.

    I do not think we will see lots of guns being made any time soon.

    I was told that a group wanted to make plans available for some kind of gun and the DT 3D printer manufacturers (apparently) decided not to sell this group a printer because (apparently) they feared what could happen. and if they will not sell you the printer, obviously, they think there is a possibility the printer/tech will be abused.

    Anyone know the back story or if it is true or not true?
  20. Omar Days

    Omar Days Well-Known Member

    It can't form complex machines. Guns and explosives have chemicals, moving parts. It doesn't work that way. But it can form solid metal shapes.

    ;)
  21. SamuraiBigEd

    SamuraiBigEd Under paid Sasquatch! Moderator


    I seriously question the validity of these stories. I read the various reports, all of which state the company seized the printer because they felt what he was doing was illegal. None of them gives details as to how this seizure happened which I find strange since if you own a piece of equipment the manufacturer can't come and seize it at will for any reason. If it was a lease with no option to own maybe, but that is dubious as well otherwise car companies could repossess your leased car because they don't like the way you drive.

    The other problem with this is it claims to be a "fully printable" gun. There are no plastics out there that can be run through a printer that will hold up to the chamber pressure or heat generated firing a round. There are some carbon-kevlar composites that might but they would not be printable.

    I am going to chalk this up to internet sensationalism.
    kevincott and Speed Daemon like this.
  22. Bob Maxey

    Bob Maxey Well-Known Member

    Naw . . . everything on the net is real. Someone at the Internet company confirms every story. Did you not understand that?

    Seriously, it is a hard call. I do know there are certain things the guberment can confiscate if they are being used illegally. Not sure how a 3D printer fits in.

    Not sure a company can just take something back. I am sure in some situations, they might be able to but then the suits arrive and who knows how a judge or jury will react. I think as soon as a jury is told that a weapon can be created from a desktop printer, you are screwed.

    I also think one person's success in making a few parts to convert a gun ends up being a whopper of a story, where well stocked printed armory is just a matter of time.

    But i also think being able to create useful products like vintage motorcycle trim parts would be cool.

    Lots of far worse things to worry about I should think.

    As for materials and their strength and ability to handle pressure, there are many such material out there. And if ultra-strong materials are demanded by the growing 3D printer users base, they will most certainly arrive.

    They are creating new chemical compounds with a 3D printer for example. Automated (I do not know how automated this process is) custom compounding can lead to some issues for society.

    I am not saying the sky is about to fall, but the rapid deployment of some pretty amazing technology is happening at a rapid pace. I think we have the equipment now all we need are the materials and they will arrive.

    At Palm, we made case parts with a device like a 3D printer. Twin laser beams scanned a vat of polymers and where the laser beams crossed, the different frequency of the combined light hardened the plastic. We created all kinds of shapes including round areas that looked like tubes.

    So barrels could be easily fashioned.
  23. SamuraiBigEd

    SamuraiBigEd Under paid Sasquatch! Moderator

    Well of course it is real, after all Al Gore invented it!

    I think we are a long way off from fully printable guns, but some components are a reality now such as AR15 lowers, stock & grips and possibly some less wear heavy hard parts.

    The laser unit you are talking about is what I referred to earlier as a laser plotting printer, really cool stuff! They are used to make replacement bones like partial skull plates and mandibles. The affordable printers work by melting plastics and spraying them like an inkjet printer, which is why they could not currently hold up to the heat of repetitive shots. You might make a one or two shot "last ditch" pistol but any more than that and the barrel would degrade to quickly. I could see a single use "assassination pistol", close range, then pitch it in a fire to melt it.
  24. Bob Maxey

    Bob Maxey Well-Known Member

    Or drop it in water to dissolve it. Seems far fetched. That a strong plastic would "melt" in water might seem to most people to be not possible. But I am not surprised at some of what is down the road.

    I absolutely expect we will one day be able to create machines--3D printers as an example--capable of creating other machines. I am not talking about self-replicating in the science fiction fantasy world vein, but machines that are simple and capable of creating more complex machines.

    We see this already with RepRap.

    If a polymer could be developed (when a polymer IS developed, rather) that can be made tough with adjuncts or softer (think shoes and "rubber" soles) with additives, I can see a point where we simply make what we want. We are already there in some respects.

    Plastics are the way to go because the technology is advancing and it will be possible to create ultra-strong materials down the road. They can start soft and become hard with chemical vapour treatment, soaking the parts in chemicals, even light can harden some materials.

    For that matter, simply use ceramic materials that can be fired in your oven. Then you have materials stronger than the best metals used to make guns. All you need is a way to create a one time use machine gun and we have a problem.

    Our great grand children will live in an amazing world. Unfortunately (?) they will wonder what the next 50 years holds for them, just like we wonder about the future now.
  25. Speed Daemon

    Speed Daemon Disabled

    kevincott likes this.

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