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Old February 6, 2013, 02:33 PM   #1
ScottRiqui
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Non-"nefarious" use for 3D printing

We've had a couple threads here about people soon being able to "print" guns using a relatively-inexpensive 3D printers, but there's another aspect that I'm more excited about - being able to "print" replacement parts for antique or other out-of-production guns.

Teenage Engineering has decided to release the CAD specifications for their music synthesizer knobs as open-source files, so anyone who wants to can print replacement knobs. Soon, I expect people will begin doing the same thing for gun parts that aren't subject to high stresses. Need a set of grips for your 1908 Colt? Print them out! Want a bushing wrench for your 1911 *right now*? Print one out!
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Old February 6, 2013, 03:20 PM   #2
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Boy, I could use a spare fire control group for my AC556!
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Old February 6, 2013, 03:25 PM   #3
Kimio
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Hmmm, what about things like BCG' for rare firearms like the FN FNC and stuff like that? It's not like the parts market for them is exploding.
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Old February 6, 2013, 03:28 PM   #4
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Yes, a 3D printer is perfect for this sort of stuff although the main use for plastic printed parts will be to provide a prototype for a metal part or other medium that can then be made through CNC milling or casting.

Ever looked into 3D Laser scanners? Probably pretty expensive piece of equipment, but it uses lasers to plot millions of points over an object and creates a CAD file from these millions of points. For oddly shaped or textured parts, it takes hours/days of programing and does it in seconds.

With a good enough printer and scanner you could disassemble a gun, scan it, print the parts, and have yourself a plastic replica of the gun.
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Old February 6, 2013, 03:31 PM   #5
Armorer-at-Law
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Today's 3D printers are perfectly capable of creating metal parts servicable as or in a working firearm. They are not just for plastic prototypes.
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Old February 6, 2013, 03:37 PM   #6
alex0535
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If you have a metal 3D printer, yes the technology is there. Expect to pay a lot for it.

http://www.extremetech.com/extreme/1...el-not-plastic

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature...v=20R9nItDmPY#

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature...v=Ao319dj6kiM#!

Last edited by alex0535; February 6, 2013 at 03:43 PM.
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Old February 6, 2013, 03:38 PM   #7
Skans
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Today's 3D printers are perfectly capable of creating metal parts servicable as or in a working firearm. They are not just for plastic prototypes.
I hate to ask, but what does a machine like this cost?
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Old February 6, 2013, 03:39 PM   #8
Kimio
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As I understand it, there is a method to do this by scanning the part and then sending it to a CNC machine to fabricate it. Jay Leno used it for crafting replacement parts for his eclectic collection of antique cars. (God I'd love to tour his garage!)
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Old February 6, 2013, 09:09 PM   #9
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You could print your own cartridge holders.
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Old February 7, 2013, 10:47 AM   #10
Armorer-at-Law
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I hate to ask, but what does a machine like this cost?
Depends on size, but I've seem them in the $700k to $1.5 million range.
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Old February 7, 2013, 10:49 AM   #11
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Depends on size, but I've seem them in the $700k to $1.5 million range.
Pretty heart-stopping, but then I remind myself that ten years ago, a 42-inch plasma was a $14k TV.
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Old February 7, 2013, 01:43 PM   #12
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That's an expensive machine for making one-off parts for guns!
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Old February 7, 2013, 02:20 PM   #13
flyinpolack
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That's an expensive machine for making one-off parts for guns!
They are actually being used a lot for medical implants too.
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Old February 7, 2013, 02:30 PM   #14
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Pretty heart-stopping, but then I remind myself that ten years ago, a 42-inch plasma was a $14k TV.
You got screwed. Our main TV, a 50" Plasma bought in 2003 "only" cost about $4000. And it was a pretty good model too. I keep hoping it will die soon so I can rationalize a new/better one with internet access.

Eventually it will be cheap enough for the average person to own a 3D printer but it may be another 20-30 years before that happens.
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Old February 7, 2013, 02:35 PM   #15
ScottRiqui
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You got screwed. Our main TV, a 50" Plasma bought in 2003 "only" cost about $4000. And it was a pretty good model too. I keep hoping it will die soon so I can rationalize a new/better one with internet access.
I just remember reading a bunch of A/V magazines while I was laid up recovering from a motorcycle accident in August 2003. The price I remembered may have been for an absolute top-of-the-line Pioneer or Sony, though. Congratulation on getting 10 years (so far) out of yours!

And while a printer that's currently $1m may never get cheap enough for household use, the prices aren't going to go anywhere but down, and quickly.
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Old February 7, 2013, 04:25 PM   #16
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I just hope they get cheap enough to where gun manufacturers and even gunsmiths can afford them. I just want the parts, not a big piece of machinery that needs 3-phase power and a warehouse.
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Old February 8, 2013, 12:22 AM   #17
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We're pretty close to "affordable, high resolution, strong parts, pick 2". 5 years ago, "affordable" wasn't even in the cards. "metal" and "affordable" still isn't in the cards, but that's on it's way as well. I don't see a 3d-printer next to the inkjet anytime soon, but a 3d-printer next to the drill press is a current possibility to the serious hobbyist.

I'm planning on picking one up sometime this year for gun-related use. I have a design for a trigger accelerator I'd like to build and zero machining skills. If you don't mind assembling and sourcing some of the parts yourself, you can build an extrusion printer for under $500.

I could see a decent business making truly custom molded grips. Pop in precise hand measurements into the software, fire up the printer and get target grips designed exactly for you.
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Old February 8, 2013, 12:37 AM   #18
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Another 3D-printer-like way to generate a metal form is a CNC-controlled TIG welder. Takes a little longer, requires machining to clean up, but it would easily provide you a stable platform for a lower, magazine bodies, etc.
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