The Future of Firearms: Legally Homemade Metal Guns

Metal-Gun-640x353Ever since 3-D printing became a commercially available service, Defense Distributed has sought to use the technology to create firearms. And in their latest act of circumventing the law, the online, open-source, libertarian group has created another means of building homemade firearms. But unlike the Liberator – their previous single shot incarnation – this one doesn’t involve making guns from 3-D printed plastic.

The group’s latest invention is known as the Ghost Gunner – a small, computer numerical control (CNC) milling machine that they used to create an aluminum lower receiver for an AR-15 rifle. This device, which costs about $1200, allows people with no gunsmith training to assemble a working assault rifle at home with no licensing or serial number. And for the moment, it’s completely legal.

metal-gun-inline22The Ghost Gunner itself is a small box that measures about one foot on each side and contains an Arduino controller and a custom-designed spindle that holds a steel carbide drill bit. It works like any other CNC machine – the drill spins up and moves in three dimensions to carve items out of blocks of metal. However, this machine is specifically intended to make an AR-15 lower receiver.

That’s the part of a gun that connects the stock, barrel, and magazine – and the part that’s regulated by the ATF and assigned a serial number. Selling it without a license is illegal, but making it yourself is perfectly fine. An untraceable gun built without a serial number is often called a “ghost gun” by gun control advocates. Hence why Defense Distributed chose to appropriate the term, to deliberately generate controversy.

Cody-Wilson-Defense-Distributed-Wiki-Weapon-3-d-printed-gunThis is just the latest example of Defense Distributed pushing the bounds of home manufacturing technology to make a point. Cody Wilson, the group’s founder, is an openly radical, libertarian who has repeatedly stated that mass shootings and gun-related violence are simply the price people pay for freedom. In addition, his group has openly stated that they would not allow tragedies like the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting deter them.

Manufacturing homemade weapons has always been his way of showing that technology can evade regulations, thus making the state obsolete. The group’s previous weapons – the 3D-printed Liberator gun – was more of a political statement. The gun itself was neither effective or practical; but then again, it wasn’t meant to be. This proof-of-concept weapon was simply meant to show that a new era of manufacturing is upon us.

liberatorThe Liberator itself is prone to failure and usually only manages a few poorly aimed shots before breaking down. In designing a cheap CNC machine specifically to make gun parts, Defense Distributed is delivering a viable weapon at a fraction of the cost of other CNC machines (which cost many thousands of dollars). If you can make a lower receiver, all the other parts can be ordered online cheaply and legally.

 

The Ghost Gunner is capable of making anything that fits in the build envelope, which accounts for several gun parts that go into assembling a working assault weapon or handgun. The only requirement is the parts be created with Defense Distributed’s Physibles Development SDK (pDev) and distributed as a .dd file. In that respect, it’s not much different than any number of 3D printers.

3dmetalgun-640x353Once again, Defense Distributed has proven that, for better or worse, we live in an entirely new era of manufacturing. In the past, a person needed considerable training if they wanted to make their own firearm. Nowadays, one needs only the right kind of hardware, software, and access to the necessary files. And as always seems to be the case in the digital age, the law is miles behind the curve.

One can expect the law will be upon Defense Distributed once again and place a ban on their Ghost Gunner. However, it goes without saying that Wilson and his colleagues will simply try again some other way and the fight between regulators and home manufactures will continue. But regardless of the issue of firearms, this is an indication of the age we now live in, where distributed systems are making for some rather interesting and fearful possibilities.

 

Source: extremetech.com

World’s First 3-D Printed Metal Gun

3dmetalgun-640x353Earlier this year, Distributed Defense became the source of much controversy after they unveiled the world’s first 3-D printed gun. Known as the Liberator, this single-shot weapon was entirely composed of ABS plastic, and was the first weapon that could be created using open-source software and a 3-D printer, giving anyone with access the means to build their own firearms.

Predictably, the website was shut down and the design specs were removed, thanks to an injunction filed by the U.S. Department of Defense Trade Control just a few days after the unveiling. However, the issue was far from closed, as the case of Distributed Defense and the Liberator were clearly just a drop in the bucket of a much larger trend.liberatorAnd now, just six months later, the issue is once again rearing its head as the world’s first 3-D printed metal gun was unveiled. Created by the rapid prototyping and 3-D printing company known as Solid Concepts, this 1911 Colt .45 is a major step forward in the realm of weapons that can be built by just about anyone and counted on to remain functional after firing.

The gun was built using the relatively new process known as Selective Laser Sintering (SLS), a process that combines lasers and powdered metals to create finished products. Basically, a high-powered laser is used to fuse small particles of powder together, layer by layer, until the desired shape is created. In addition to being able to create highly intricate objects, sintering is far more efficient than the machining process.

3D-Printed-Metal-Gun-Components-Disassembled-Low-Res-640x480This latest weapon was also an improvement over the Liberator in that it was able to fire over 50 rounds with considerable accuracy, whereas the Liberator broke down after just a few shots. Made of of over 30 separate 3D printed parts, the gun is composed of stainless steel and Inconel 625 (a nickel-chromium superalloy), consistent with the original Colt design.

But before people begin to worry that this is bad news, Solid Concepts was quick to point out that the gun was printed using an industrial printer, the price of which is out of range of your average citizen. In addition, the software is not open-source, meaning people can’t simply download it from any 3-D printing website and begin producing their own private arsenal.

sinteringSolid Concepts also claims that they produced this weapon to demonstrate how 3-D printing is not just for hobbyists anymore, and how sintering is a viable way to produce delicate, precise, specific consumer and professional grade products. The company said that it is currently the only 3D printing service provider with a federal firearms license, and will be looking to provide printed gun parts for legal gun owners.

Regardless, this story serves as an example of how far the technology of 3-D printing has come in just a short amount of time. From printing models with plastic, the technology is now pushing the boundaries of industrial manufacturing and bioprinting, using everything from steel and titanium to liver and kidney cells.

Give more time and refinement, we could be entering into an age where all consumer products and necessities are created from powder and individual cells, possibly even at the atomic level. For those wondering what the next industrial revolution will look like, I suggest you look no further!

And of course, Solid Concepts captured the test firing of their 1911 Colt on video. Check it out:


Source: extremetech.com