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Old November 30, 2012, 03:27 AM   #1
johnwilliamson062
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Staples introduces 3D printer kiosk

http://www.slashgear.com/staples-eas...2013-30259046/
Not in US yet, but can't be far off. If you went and printed a lower at Staples, if they don't allow it in policy someone else will, would that be legal? Would it matter if it is a self-serve kiosk or if a store employee runs the machine?
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Old November 30, 2012, 03:30 AM   #2
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It's already been done.

Illegal, i'd imagine?

3D printers are just plain astonishing
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Old November 30, 2012, 08:27 AM   #3
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I'm sure that someone will try to print one there, and that Staples will quickly establish a policy banning the practice.

It's a legal gray area, and it's not very nice to place them in the middle. Sort of like using Kinko's equipment to facilitate mass copyright infringement.
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Old November 30, 2012, 09:25 AM   #4
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Fascinating. If Staples refuses, others will step into the market place eventually who will print anything.
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Old November 30, 2012, 01:25 PM   #5
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I don't have a problem with it because I don't believe one needs a license to manufacture a gun, or any product, for that matter.
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Old November 30, 2012, 01:26 PM   #6
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Wouldn't be illegal under federal law. The feds allow one to build firearms from scratch for one's personal use and don't specify the methods to be used in the building of the firearm. I imagine that some states would frown on the printing process much as they frown on the use of a mill and lathe to build a firearm.
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Old November 30, 2012, 01:57 PM   #7
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Forgive me for my ignorance. But why is this an issue?

What type of materials would it be made out of?
Is it just a paper printing?
Would you be able to build off of it?

Sorry I'm really confused. I thought it was just paper and ink...
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Old November 30, 2012, 02:05 PM   #8
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I believe the material is a polymer, I need to look it up though. My info comes from this weeks NCIS Las Vegas, so it could be wrong. Seems the hit man in this weeks episodes used 3d printed handguns, they were supposedly only good for one shot with their polymer barrels, but they worked for that one shot. It must be true, would Ted Danson lie to us?
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Old November 30, 2012, 03:32 PM   #9
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You can 3D print with almost any material now.
I'm sure Staples will be using basic polymers. But, there are many other methods and materials being used now:

Sand (building molds for castings, and/or sculptures*, etc)
Metals ("selective laser sintering" as well as standard polymer deposition)
Plaster
Wood fiber
Silica (glass)
Ceramics*
Gypsum*
And more...

If you can imagine it, it's probably being done. Some of the methods and materials just aren't exactly cheap....


*Edited to add.
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Old November 30, 2012, 09:12 PM   #10
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I believe staples is using polymers. Most of the other printers would not be suitable or are much more expensive to purchase and operate. I guess the energy consumption of the metal printers is pretty extreme.

Frankenmauser,

Not only not cheap, but another important difference is all those methods require some sort of minimal skill/research and some tools at least.

I never thought about making a ceramic lower before. I could probably manufacture a pretty strong one without too much problem. But it just so happens I studied ceramics for a year under the tutelage of one of the PHds who designed the ceramic heat shields on the space shuttle and I already have a kiln.
There are 3D printing blue prints available online to download. You could take them to a Staples on a thumb drive and hit print and out pops a lower receiver.

Some people have looked at printing full guns and my understanding is CSI was spot on about the barrels. Tensile strength is not high enough to stop deformation no matter how large the diameter. Of course, you could make a quick change barrel design or simply go smooth barrel route. You could probably print a form and try to cast a barrel.

Was thinking about things outside legal and realized you could likely also print it with any design you wanted whatsoever. Each mm/x thick layer could be a different color.
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Old November 30, 2012, 09:55 PM   #11
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Quote:
Wouldn't be illegal under federal law.
It's not, until a guy decides to run off a bunch of AR lowers and start selling them. Where the line is between a few personal sales and running a business is pretty much up to the BATFE to decide.

I can guarantee Staples will quickly adopt a policy banning the practice as soon as they find someone doing it.
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Old December 1, 2012, 08:38 PM   #12
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I am not sure, but I think the exception in federal law would be for if the individual is the sole manufacture. My question here is does staples become a manufacturer in this case if it is being done in their store on their machine for a fee. I have an AERO manufacturer that has offered me access to their shop to make personal firearms/accessories at no charge. I have wondered about the legality of that and this seems to be far closer to involving the equipment owner as a manufacturer.
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Old December 1, 2012, 08:44 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Servo
I can guarantee Staples will quickly adopt a policy banning the practice as soon as they find someone doing it.
I would question whether the average Staples employee would recognize (or care to) a stripped, AR lower.

Start printing Glocks and it might be a little more obvious.
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Old December 1, 2012, 09:37 PM   #14
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While I have been away from it since 1999,I have worked extensively with this technology.Search "Rapid Prototyping
In my time,we used 3D Systems stereolithography,which is about a liquid polymer that hardens with exposure to UV laser.It looks like plexiglas,but not strong.It would not make a working firearm.
We had a 3D Systems Actua machine,It worked like an ink jet printer,with a 90 jet print head.It shot an engineering wax.

The idea,in the 3d Solid Modeling software(I used Pro-Engineer),is sent to a processing software that slices the virtual model into 2d cross sections.Like a contour topo map slices mountains and valleys.Suppose you slice it every .003 for a contour interval.

I our Actua machine,a 2d print of one contour would be deposited.Then the workpiece platen would lower .003.A planer head would pass over and mill the deposited material to a flat,true,.003 thick layer,Then a new layer would be deposited.
The wax part has limitations.We figured out to actually print a mold pattern,so a silicone mold could be poured off the wax master.Then 2 part resins were cast in the silicone mold.We usually used urethane.

These same wax parts are usefull for lost wax castings.A ceramic shell can be formed around them,and the wax burned out.

There is a DTM process where a laser fuses a 2d layer of about anything fusable,including powdered steel.Then the platen lowers,another layer is fused.These fused powdered metal parts have little strength,but they may be filled with copper alloy,similar to molded powdered metal,sintered parts.We tried this with plastic injection mold core and cavity parts.We had problems with warp and shrink ...not real successful.

Early 90's a rapid prototype story,boyfriend shoots girfriend in face with shotgun.
Between MRI and Catscan technology,a database of her orthopaedic injury was created.So,now there is a digital model of bone frags and trauma.

3D systems stereolithography creates a 3D plastic model surgeons can look at and discuss,evaluate,and create a strategy.With Cad designer,database for a titanium armeture for the surgeons to implant and reconstruct the woman's face around is made.Using rapid prototype technology,this titanium piece was created and delivered to the surgeons.

In one surgery,they were able to open her up,debride,implant,reconstruct her face,and close.

Contrast this with initial exploratory surgeries just to see what goes on.

While rapid prototype tech has great potential,it is expensive.

A cnc machine is cheaper.You nan be just as good at making lowers with a 3 axis mill and Solid Works.Really.
You can but an AR lower for $125.A good one.

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Old December 2, 2012, 11:08 AM   #15
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Here's a 10 minute video explaining the 3D scanner and printer from Jay Leno's Garage web site.
They use one, along with a CNC machine, to make parts for his car and motorcycle restorations.
http://www.jaylenosgarage.com/video/...tware/1378748/
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Old December 2, 2012, 07:54 PM   #16
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"A cnc machine is cheaper.You nan be just as good at making lowers with a 3 axis mill and Solid Works.Really.
You can but an AR lower for $125.A good one. "

We are just talking about something like a lower receiver here. We are probably a decade from printing a fully functional firearm. I don't think it would be any weaker than the injection molded lowers on the market.

You can rent a 3d printer capable of printing a lower from an outfit in the UK for something like $500 a month. A great many sources indicate the parts are about that if you know how to put one together. The plastic inputs are dirt cheap. Electric and such is probably significant, but I haven't found any numbers on it. No idea what sort of cleaning is necessary.

I am unaware of any place I can take a downloaded blue print on a USB drive, plug it into a computer and for a nominal fee get a machined lower in 15 minutes. This really will be a game changer.
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Old December 2, 2012, 09:09 PM   #17
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OK,I only spent 3 or 4 years creating and working with these parts and the machines that make them.I defer.
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Old December 3, 2012, 11:13 PM   #18
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Quote:
While I have been away from it since 1999
Well, maybe a lot has changed in the last 14 years.

If you are doubting the possibility of someone being able to print a lower, too late. It has already been done. There are several documented instances.

If you are doubting you can rent one for $500, well look at this:http://www.uprintsource.com/rentauprint.asp $275 a month, although not sure if that has a large enough printable area or necessary resolution. There are a couple others in the business. I found one that printed at the resolution a machinst told me was necessary and correct dimensions for $500 a month not long ago. I have an acquaintance who built one for about that(he also has a 3d mill). Prices will only go down.

DO you know of a place that has a fully automated machining process I can just download a blue print to? If so I would be very interested.
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Old December 5, 2012, 12:43 AM   #19
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John, I'm not taking sides here - just providing a partial answer to your query.

eMachineShop has been around for a while. They accept standard file formats for 2D drawings and 3D models. However, they also offer their own software, which quotes the cost before you even submit the part for production.
There are several other companies with similar business models, but that one came to mind first.
It's not a 100% automated process. It's a brick-and-mortar machine shop that accepts orders through an automated program. But, as far as the customer is concerned... they submit the order, and the finished part shows up at their door.



Affordable 3D printers have about the same amount of automation and finish quality as a CAM router, water jet, plasma cutter, or 5 axis CNC mill. In the case of a well equipped 5 axis mill, the 3D printed product will need substantially more finish work before it can be used. (You don't get a perfect part. It generally has to be smoothed and sanded, due to the voxel {volumetric pixel} resolution of the printer and material being used.)
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Old December 5, 2012, 03:07 AM   #20
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I cannot even fathom how recently a discussion of such a "futuristic" technology would have been closed and the OP warned that fantasy land fiction wasn't allowed even if gun related...

Brent
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Old December 5, 2012, 08:12 AM   #21
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I have no doubt they can make a model of a lower.I have made far more complex parts than a lower.I have played with a running gearset,the gears and shafts they ran on were all done in one shot.Have fun,maybe they have developed far better materials.

In my experience,dated as it is,the parts created just did not have engineering properties anything close to ..say Lexan,or graphite filled nylon,etc.They were useful for engineers to hold the vision in their hand,check assemblies,etc.They were great for the moldmaker to look at designing a mold.(That is an interesting excersize off 2d blueprints of a part drawing.)Package designers can use the parts,and ,cosmetically finished,Marketing can take ad pix,etc.We never got anything that was good for functional parts.They were stronger than Doritos,but not nearly as strong as the cheapest of moldable thermoplastics.

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.

Softwares like Pro-Engineer and Solidworks can make the sort of database you will need to work with.

Good luck,keep us posted.
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Old December 5, 2012, 11:02 AM   #22
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HiBC,

"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.
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Old December 5, 2012, 06:17 PM   #23
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John, I think we're looking at the Staples announcement differently.

My take:
They have no plans to have these printers in their stores, any time soon. They'll be at centralized locations.
You upload the model file(s).
They print it.
Then it's shipped to your door, or your chosen Staples location.

If so... there's no way to be present when it's printed, to skirt any ATF regs about manufacturing a receiver*.

Printed by Staples, milled by eMachineShop, or made by the machinist down the road while you're at home... it still can't be a finished receiver, for them to legally produce it. (If they'll do it at all.)



*(I've never seen an official ruling or opinion letter stating that it is, in fact, legal for some one else to produce the receiver, so long as you're present at the time. I've seen many references to it for suppressor parts and AR receivers, but never an official statement. ...thus, my use of "skirting" ATF regs. If anyone does have a link to back that concept up, it would be good to see.)
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Old December 5, 2012, 08:00 PM   #24
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Quote:
You upload the model file(s).
They print it.
Then it's shipped to your door, or your chosen Staples location.
If they're charging money to make something on your behalf, they're certainly in the business of manufacturing it at that point.
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Old December 5, 2012, 10:14 PM   #25
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Frankenmauser,
I reread the article and your interpretation is correct. I agree with that business model it is an absolute no go. Still, it won't be long until you can use these machines as I described.

I hope it is legal once they get them in store like a kiosk. I will probably have one before then though.
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