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Old February 25, 2013, 09:53 PM   #26
Nathan
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IMO, your time would be better spent investment casting with the lost wax process and a basic injection press. Maybe a 3d printer that makes wax models is what we need!
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Old February 26, 2013, 05:08 AM   #27
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Price will come down, quality will come up. The first VHS/Beta machines were north of $2000.00, a color printer, 1000.00. So what if a printed AR15 lower will only last a couple hundred rounds. You print off another one and swap it out.
A vhs or printer is not the same as a quality 3D printer or CNC machine. An ink printer is not meant to produce sturdy products, and a vhs doesn't even print anything. A $10,000+ CNC machine will not come down in price to $2k or even $500 where your average joe can afford to buy one.

I think that is beside the point anyway. The issue is making durable products that will last more than just a few rounds. Even more important is that barrels, slides, and springs need to be made from steel or aluminum--not plastic or polymer. I would not want to have to replace a broken gun/part every few rounds anyway; that is just not reasonable

As far as the benefits of 3D printing goes, they are probably limited to magazines and lower receivers only.
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Old February 26, 2013, 08:25 AM   #28
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Some of you are missing the point. Can you name a technology that hasn't improved over time? Or mass produced items that increase in price? Just cause you can't do it now, doesnt mean you won't be able to in the future. When was the last time you took a stroll through Lockheed Martin's R&D department?
Also, the point that a firearm won't last as long as metal hasn't much to do with this dicussion. Sure, it won't last AS long, but work it will.
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Old February 26, 2013, 09:47 AM   #29
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I know that this technology is the new up and coming scare tactic for the media. Regardless of the improvements this will have over the years, you will still be only able to make parts that have no real stress on them. Look at the AR-15 someone put together. They still had to use a complete metal upper. The receiver that is printed lasted only a handful of rounds. Finally broke at the buffer tube. Image a 1911 frame, it does have a bearing surface and alot of force acting upon it. Try that with plastic. The AR-15 was the easiest to make, as it really has no force acting upon it, except by the buffer tube where it broke. And without metal internals and a metal upper, it would never function.

The technology will get better. But we would need super huge advances in polymer science to be able to make a part with the strength needed to be a bearing surface or any type of internal mechanism,ie hammer, firing pin or such. Perhaps still in my lifetime, but I would think ray guns would become more pactical before this tech can produce a complete firearm for a relatively low price that anyone can afford to put in the basement workshop. All this just IMHO.
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Old February 26, 2013, 10:48 AM   #30
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Some of you are missing the point. Can you name a technology that hasn't improved over time? Or mass produced items that increase in price? Just cause you can't do it now, doesnt mean you won't be able to in the future. When was the last time you took a stroll through Lockheed Martin's R&D department?
Also, the point that a firearm won't last as long as metal hasn't much to do with this dicussion. Sure, it won't last AS long, but work it will.
There's nothing wrong with being excited about new technology, but the simple fact is that these 3-D printers aren't really game-changers when it comes to manufacturing gun parts. There are some neat things that 3-D printers can do that current CNC equipment can't (like forming fully-enclosed internal voids in a part), but that's neither here nor there.

3-D printers certainly don't require any new laws to address their use, even though I'm certain that some politicians are champing at the bit to do just that.

If we want to avoid government interference, we need to be realistic about what these printers can and can't do, both currently, and in the near-to-middle future, and make sure that people don't have unrealistic expectations.

We need to make sure people know that this isn't "Star Trek" replicator technology, and that people aren't able to tell their computers to "print a gun" and have it spit out a functioning firearm, because I promise you that's the impression that some people already have.
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Old February 26, 2013, 11:26 AM   #31
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Just one more thing for the antis to want to ban. They already have draft proposals to require licenses for machinery and tools capable of making guns. A federal license would be required to open a machine shop and only licensed machine shops would be authorized to buy lathes, milling machines, etc. They would also have to keep records of all jobs, with photos of the work and ID of the customer.

See, and you home workshop guys thought you could escape the all-seeing eye of Uncle Sam! No way.

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Old February 26, 2013, 04:56 PM   #32
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3D printers are getting some play nowdays for a couple of reasons. One is cuz any tech aspect thing gets play as a way to pump up investments and buoy confidence in the market. "A new revolution" of "distributed manufacturing".

Googles new "Google vision" eyeglasses are an example. How exciting! I can play a video game, check my ETrade investments and drive down a crowded street all through my eyeglasses. The tech folk get hecka excited at all the possible applications...night vision for example. Investments roll in. Speculative articles are written. The usual rah! rah!

Same with the 3D. It can be very useful for sending working scale or life size models of parts and designs across long distances rather than simply a print of the same.

Folks are already building AR lowers...

http://hackaday.com/2012/07/26/3d-pr...5-lower-works/

These will soon be regulated and taxed.

The large scale usefulness of these though will be in home production of small gadgets for small business. As in parts for bracelets, dolls, trinkets, etc.
The cost per unit made will be higher than production plants with injection molding equipment, etc. but if the scale of production is smaller due to niche parts than there can be a return on the investment.

The other niche they will serve is in piece work. Bosses will quickly discover that they can rent a machine to a worker and then pay them by the amount of pieces they make in their garages. The worker does not need the skill of the machinist and the boss assumes no risks or overhead.

Brave new world!

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Old February 26, 2013, 06:28 PM   #33
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You can't print a working spring.

Printed AR mag with working printed spring--5 round mag IIRC

Quote:
You can't print anything with moving parts unless you print the parts separately.
1st, how is that a detriment compared with any other method, and 2nd:

Let me know when you find a way to make that assembly by machining or casting. RP will allow the printing of a complete, assembled FCG in time.

Of course RP has potential. It is a better method for making one-off parts in darn near every way except for material strength. Recall we once made guns out of brass and iron. Of course RP materials will get better.

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It's a TV gimmick now. Someday, maybe, but not now.
Maybe someday we'll have non-lethal guns that shoot electricity and the means to speak remotely with a hand-held device

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Old February 26, 2013, 08:37 PM   #34
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RP will allow the printing of a complete, assembled FCG in time.
I'm unfamiliar with the terms RP or FCG. Have no idea.

The tech has potential in industry. The medical field for example.

Quote:
Of course RP has potential. It is a better method for making one-off parts in darn near every way except for material strength.
This is true. I'd just add "some" one off parts. At present the process is slow and faces the inherent limitations of the materials that the model is being made of. It can't make a part faster than the material allows.

It can't make a spring of plastic or cintered metal that has the same properties as spring steel.

But it doesn't need to either. That's not the strength of the tech. Steel springs are plentiful and inexpensive. The potential here is to make small numbers of otherwise quite expensive things in a factory or shop or small numbers of cheap complex things in a persons garage.

But it is still relatively new tech (15 years or so) and is in the developmental stage.

Can you make a gun out of it? Not right now. Parts of some guns maybe. It's still cheaper to just go buy one. You can make a zip gun for a lot less than the cost of a 3D printer.

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Old February 27, 2013, 06:05 AM   #35
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You can't print a working spring
I thought that was the end of the argument, maybe not.
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Old February 27, 2013, 07:30 PM   #36
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Posted by barnbwt:
Printed AR mag with working printed spring--5 round mag IIRC.
IRCC? Does that mean you haven't seen it? You haven't seen it work?

Do you have pics of an actual working firearm using printed springs?

I can make a "spring" by coiling up a strip of cardboard. That doesn't make it useful as a gun spring.

And that spinning thing doesn't have anywhere near the close tolerances needed in a working gun.

Printed guns are currently fiction. Maybe someday, in fact I'd invest money in a company that I thought could do it. But no one has done it yet.
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Old February 27, 2013, 09:57 PM   #37
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I'm unfamiliar with the terms RP or FCG. Have no idea.
Forgive my TLAs (three letter acronyms):
RP-Rapid Prototyping
(subtypes; FDM=melted plastic addition; SLA=UV laser cured epoxy resin)
FCG-Fire Control Group (trigger, sear, disconnector,hammer, safety, their pivots, and housing)
CYA-cover your...we all know this one already

Quote:
IRCC? Does that mean you haven't seen it? You haven't seen it work?
Of course I haven't . Like many things we "hear" about, I heard about it and passed it along. It was on Thingiverse (now purged of gun stuff ) and, yes, mostly served as a "concept" of what a 100% mag looks like. However, it worked well enough the designer exluded it from his file release as a CYA so he wouldn't end up in the papers if some killer used his magazine. (Not very trusting of the gun-owning public, is he?)

The current RP designs are facsimilies of older metallic forms, and are therfore doomed to failure. But plastic has a modulus and yield point, therefore a functioning spring can be made. Yes, it will be huge (and short lived) compared to a steel leaf spring. But that's not the point of the guy's excercise. It's a working spring, a working follower, and a working mag-body with feed lips. They don't work well yet, but the concept is sound, the design will improve, and the current issues and shortcomings will be addressed. That's innovation. I can already see someone trying to epoxy some fiberglass tape to the spring to make it truly functional.

Quote:
And that spinning thing doesn't have anywhere near the close tolerances needed in a working gun.

Upper portion of an Eiffel Tower model made on the Form 1 . Though they may not be ready for all firearms applications just yet (though I still think that will change soon), makers of table-top game pieces are on notice

The Form 1 printer by Formlabs is spec'ed at 10 microns for accuracy--tight enough for a finish as smooth as injection moulding. Tight enough that the similiarly-made (SLA) AR lower made by Distributed Defense that's shot 600 rounds (so far with no wear) needed no thread-chasing on the formed threaded holes.

Tolerance aside, the thing that spinning toy impresses me the most with is that there is no other way to make it. (I also saw in a still-photo that the spheres aren't loose; each layer rotates on pin-bushings mounted on the next layer.) Just think of all the new design possibilities that open up when you can form additively like this! Intricate, high-tolerance details suddenly become as easy/cheap to make as a planar face!

Back in school, professors/students were constantly printing assembled mechanisms (gears and stuff for optics gimbals they were designing, if memory serves). My rockets design class even used a FDM-formed dowel to mould the inner combustion chamber cavity of our solid fuel plug*. The star-shaped piece was stout enough to be pushed out of a 6" long block of adhered wax/polymer mixture by a press. The stuff's plenty tough, but the layers are bonded to each other very weakly, making it bad for tension. SLA is much better for that.

Quote:
Printed guns are currently fiction. Maybe someday, in fact I'd invest money in a company that I thought could do it. But no one has done it yet.
That's true, but it's not fair to claim it can't be done until it finally is, either. Honestly, I really hope no one does make a poly-gun until this current ban-storm passes, because many folks get real reactionary when ordinary citizens are empowered to do stuff for themselves. I'm saving up for a Form 1 because I want to invest in a small, new, American company that I think has the potential to market a prototyper that can actually do some things, and will only get better with development. And at a price point that approaches affordable for many people. And because I think it has a place in producing (even now) functional parts for firearms and tons of other uses (like 922r compliance parts for my obscure-as-all-get-out Stgw57 build).

TCB

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Engine test 1
Engine test 2
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Old February 28, 2013, 08:35 AM   #38
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http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature...&v=tAW72Y_XPF4

An AR printed lower. Link from the general discussion forum.

Last edited by cecILL; February 28, 2013 at 08:42 AM. Reason: add information
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Old February 28, 2013, 09:14 AM   #39
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So why would anyone want a plastic lower? I work plastics daily. There are no plastics that can compete with metals across the board. Some take heat up to aaround 1100f, some are inert, some are light, wear resistant or pliable.
You could invest in a $100k+ mold and make lowers from glass or fiber reinforced nylon like glock or H&K, etc.. Price would go down after the first 50000 or so pieces were sold.
Anybody with a CNC mill and some machining knowledge can download 3-D solids of AR lowers and run them out of 7075 Alum properly. Could be worth while at a few hundred pieces.
The problem with part is getting a proper FFl to manufacture. If your looking to have one to use for criminal purposes you certainly wouldnt go through the trouble. Just go steel one.
Printed lowers are a novelty at best.
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Old February 28, 2013, 09:59 AM   #40
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3D printers are going to become more and more prominent as technology improves. They're already working on models that can print metal and (more interestingly, IMO) living cells/flesh.

Personally I can't wait for the day when there's a 3D printer in every home.

Quote:
And that spinning thing doesn't have anywhere near the close tolerances needed in a working gun.
Mr. Kalashnikov might have some input about how well firearms can work when made without ultra close tolerances.
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Old February 28, 2013, 12:06 PM   #41
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The machines I work on, have stages that can position to nanometer accuracy. While moving at 500mm/sec.

The technology is already there to make these things accurate. Just the price and incorporating it. Its coming though.

We can now make all of our toys at home instead of China...
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Old February 28, 2013, 12:27 PM   #42
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It's been mentioned that there is a good deal of industrial usage for this tech. Polymer gun parts can be made from it and working AR lowers are being made. There will be improvement.

But a part of a gun isn't a gun. The law currently allows a person to build a gun in their home, without a serial number, if it is for their personal use, though various local jurisdictions may frown on that in various ways.

More interesting is the ability to produce a working model of a gun (or anything else for that matter) for experimental and design purposes. Or your own air soft gun. There are possibilities for the teams working together on designs to build working models.

Some folk believe the tech will somehow "empower" people. I don't see that happening except in the way that the home sewing machine "empowered" some to make their own clothes at home from patterns ordered through the mail or bought at craft stores. Some also used the portable sewing machine to teach themselves to design clothes in hopes of being the next Versace.

But many millions more were "empowered" to work for piece work wages in garages and sweat shops. There is potential here for these machines as well in the production of widgets for industry.

Quote:
3D printers are going to become more and more prominent as technology improves. They're already working on models that can print metal and (more interestingly, IMO) living cells/flesh.
The "adult entertainment" industry will love these things. So will the home "hobbyist".

Quote:
Personally I can't wait for the day when there's a 3D printer in every home.
Brett Favre will have some fun.

More seriously a small cottage industry in revolver and pistol grips could develop. Custom grips fitted to your hand for a few bucks.

Not everyone will want one of these sitting in their bedrooms.

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Old February 28, 2013, 12:28 PM   #43
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While the topic is mostly about "completely printed" types of things....

What about using 3d printing to print the "frame" of a handgun around the steel insert, similar to the way many of the newer polymer firearms are made?

Also, what about using the process to make a polymer metal lined mag similar to the Glock design?

Yes, I do know that in both instances there has to be the insert made, but just curious about combining the two processes?
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Old February 28, 2013, 01:05 PM   #44
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Yes, I do know that in both instances there has to be the insert made, but just curious about combining the two processes?
It's already being done. It's also kinda the point. Why make a spring this way when springs are stronger and more economically produced by current methods? You don't, you combine the elements. We don't make windows entirely of glass, we only use glass for the transparent part.

This method does not replace other materials or methods that are stronger, faster or more economical. It enables us potentially to build some parts out of some materials that could not be made economically any other way. I don't think it will be so useful in making firearms as in the medical, aerospace, defense, entertainment and other industries.

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Old February 28, 2013, 05:11 PM   #45
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Like my father is wont to say: "The marvel is not that the bear dances well, but that the bear dances at all." And as someone who's been interested in home 3D printing since the first rep-rap, I can say that the bear is starting to do a workable foxtrot and may breakdance before the decade's out.

Yes, maching is better for most parts. Machining however isn't turnkey. You can buy an assembled 3d printer for $499, fully assembled dual-head* model with a build plate large enough for an ar-15 receiver? under 3k. Both allow you to plug in, fire up and print parts.

outside of attention grabbing news stories, 3D printings use for guns would be more for prototyping and accessory-making than for part manufacturing. Got an idea for a new locking system and want to demonstrate it? 3d print the part and show it off. Want to test a grip shape or sight geometry? same thing. Want a replacement part for a gun that had stopped being manufactured before the great war? print a hundred parts for a few dollars to test the fit and functionality and then send the specs off to a machinist to get the real deal .

assuming a certain gunbroker auction doesn't take all of my funds, I'll be getting a desktop 3D printer soon. first thing I'm going to design and print? a mag loading tool for my makarov. There's one on the market but it's something that's both a good learning exercise and a functional object that other shooters may find useful.

Long term gun plans with this tool include hard to find parts such as the magazine for a .22lr conversion for the Mak and a replacement front sight for my ar-7 designed to hold a fiber optic light pipe. There's not enough market demand to make manufacture of either profitable and once I've finished designing and testing the parts I can release the design for free an anyone who cares to make their own.

Less design-oriented and more mundane use would be snap caps (my kitten tends to steal mine when they're ejected). You can buy them for most calibers but printing would be cheaper and easier, not to mention more available for less off the shelf ammo and faster than waiting for shipping.

One more quick note: Investment casting from 3d printed parts is quite possible. one of the driving forces behind 3d printing is the thousands hobbyists thinking “let's see if this is possible”, if it is it's another tool to use, if it isn't the next question becomes “how can we make this possible” and the end result may well be “look at what I can do!”

*main non-decorative use for a dual-head 3d printer is to print soluble supports. Print the main part using standard plastic, print the supports using a special plastic that dissolves in water and you can print more complex shapes. the recent AR-15 receiver defense distributed made was printed using this method, albeit with a much more expensive hunk of hardware.
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Old February 28, 2013, 06:54 PM   #46
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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E1eKadlPC4w

3-D printers are capable of some amazing things already. this is a model of a radial engine that was printed as one piece. now if the material is strong enough it would be a fully functional engine. as soon as polymers are strong enough, printing a complete gun is not out of the question. but as people have said its not at this moment.
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Old March 3, 2013, 08:33 PM   #47
eNon
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You can't print a working spring. You can't print steel. You can't print anything with moving parts unless you print the parts separately.
In addition to the zig-zag style spring as posted above with that magazine, this video shows a more conventional spiral spring.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TCl5l...tailpage#t=46s

Obviously nowhere near the strength of a metal spring, but it works for some applications.

You can actually print in steel btw. there are a couple different methods. one requires the part to be hardened in a kiln after printing, the other doesn't. I've had stuff printed in the stuff that has to be hardened before and there is slight shrinking and warping that can go on if your part is thin, so steel printing is not a good solution for precision parts, at least with the technology that I've used.

Plastic printing on the other hand is more than capable of printing more precise parts, including fully captured moving parts like hinges and such which are printed in one piece and work directly out of the printer. That rotary engine posted above is probably the best example you're going to find.

I agree with the poster above though who stated that for the near future we're only going to be seeing gun accessories being made with 3D printers, as practical gun parts are still best made by traditional means. I personally have my designs printed through a website printing service that uses professional machines, because of the higher print quality and variety of available materials. Also, home printers are not as easy as "plug it in and start printing". There is a lot of calibration and troubleshooting involved to make things run smoothly. Most of the people that I know who own a desktop 3D printer are not currently using them because they aren't working.

A set of custom grips for my Ruger Mark III are on my "to design" list. I have made a few sets of custom swiss army knife scales that came out really well.



*first post btw. hi all*

Last edited by eNon; March 3, 2013 at 11:57 PM.
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Old March 3, 2013, 10:53 PM   #48
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Watch this short vid on what can be done...

http://www.engineeringtv.com/video/E...ing-Technology

The various new mechanical processes do make a number of newer methods possible.

You can see some of those possibilities here.

Of course you can make a spring in time to rival springs currently made by conventional processes. But making springs don't seem the point of these machines. It'd be like driving a Ferrarri 2 blocks to pick up a quart of milk.

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Old March 3, 2013, 11:38 PM   #49
eNon
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Ah, so they use laser sintering for the metals as well. The metal parts that I had made were also powdered metal, but the part was held together with a liquid binder, sprayed from a fairly conventional print head to hold the steel powder together until hardened in a kiln. That's where i had the shrinking & warping issues, but with sintering you probably won't have that happening. Takes a serious laser I imagine, especially for titanium.

The top 2 knives in my photo are sintered nylon plastic. The top is white that's been dyed blue after printing. The grey one is the same white nylon, but mixed with aluminum dust. The bottom one is a method that gives a more detailed printed plastic which is sprayed from a print head in liquid form, then hit with UV to harden before moving to the next layer.

Just producing springs would be silly, I agree. Though the ability to incorporate a functioning spring inclosed inside of a greater part in one printing session may certainly have some application that would be difficult or impossible by conventional means.

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Old January 7, 2014, 05:35 PM   #50
7whiskeytango
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Printed guns

Printed weapons have a couple flaws in them that will probably keep them from being a quality use.

#1- SLA or printed materials lack the compression in the molecular level to have the tension strength of plastic injection materials. You may get a few rounds through it but it is far from being a process that will make a lasting part. Some of the pieces, that do not require impact tensile strength or a additive that creates lubricity, then SLA, SLS, printed material would be fine. There are printable steels available also, but have also shown a real lack in long term use on items that require surfaces that have friction or have impact strength.

#2 - Cost. If you are looking to print for your own fun, a printer would be fine, but they run slow and the materials for the "nicer" machines that leave a good surface, as the examples in this thread, are not cheap. You also have a maximum tolerance of .005 / inch. In the machining world, that's huge. Printing plastics and steels is also a very slow process where a lower could take you 10 hours to print.
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