"They may offer a service of converting a 2d drawing to a virtual solid 3d model,but I suspect the process is not done with 2d drawings."
I think you are out of touch with developments. There are open source sites with TONS of 3D blueprints plans other people made that I can simply download. For all sorts of things. Several firearm receivers have already been produced and are available for download. I don't need them to convert a 2D blue print or work up one of my own.
eMachineshop and similar ventures may have a business model perfect for me if i want to produce a custom rear sight, but it won't work if I want to manufacturer a receiver. In that case they are still manufacturing a firearm and the emachines would have to go through all the normal federal processes of registering it, having the license to manufacture, shipping product to an FFL instead of my doorstep, etc. That is part of what I am wondering about at Staples. If the employee has to help run the machine, then am I buying Staples to manufacture the part, and if so do they then need an SOT, FFL, transfer it to me, etc. If it a kiosk like their 2d printers where I come in, plug in my USB, make a few option selections, swipe my cc, and the printed page drops out, then I don't think it would be.
The people who have done this on their own have generally been pretty closed lipped as to exactly what they did and how well it worked. There is a group, Defense Distributed, which is more public but they are way behind some of the other people working on this. To be fair they got a late start. In fact they just released their first actual production attempt yesterday
. An individual without such lofty goals of arming the world from their own basement, claims he printed a lower receiver in July and fired 200 rounds out of it without a failure
He posted his design file online after testing the firearm, so I could download it and, if staples or anyone else had the machine he used walk in and print it.
As you see from what I posted, one of these guns failed after 6 rounds in 5.7, another only fired 22lr, but there are hundreds or thousands of people working on this. The second was mot constructed with a maker bot and used materials the makerbot can't use, but that is something that will change quickly. Look at the progression of the makerbot itself so far, then factor in all the competitors innovations. The receivers don't absolutely have to be milspec. They can beef up the outer dimensions and get a little more strength. Maybe it will be necessary to add bushings to high stress areas such as the buffer tube where the one failed. Still less skill required than machining from scratch. Possible you could first print a jig that would correctly position the bushings then print the lower around them.
I THINK when Jay Leno bought his famous 3D printer, around 2000, he said it cost him something like 100K and the company that sold it to him gave him a break in return for some of the promotional bits he did. I think at the time he did the bit on his show about it I looked it up and the list price was something extraordinary like $250K. A few years ago no one was making these printers in the volume of the maker bot and one would set you back $10K or more. Now you can get one for $2k and rent alternatives for less and they produce much higher quality items than what Jay Leno started with.