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Old February 24, 2013, 04:17 PM   #1
Smit
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3-D Printers

Folks,

I recently read an interesting article in regards to 3-D printers. Although I am not completely familiar with them, they sure seem like they are going to have a big impact down the road. What does this have to do with handguns?
Well,
The author of the article discussed how it was relatively easy to obtain one and learn the functions. Also, people have started trying to construct pistols using the plastic materials for parts. Granted they didn't work very well and/or broke after the first shot, still very interesting to think it may be possible to build a pistol in one's basement in the near future. Thoughts?
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Old February 24, 2013, 04:25 PM   #2
ScottRiqui
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Quote:
still very interesting to think it may be possible to build a pistol in one's basement in the near future.
It's possible to build a pistol in one's basement today, and has been for decades.

3-D printing won't really change the landscape of gun production until the price of the printers that are capable of making firearm-quality parts drops down enough to make their use widespread. Right now, they cost more than the conventional machine tools you would need to make a pistol. True, the learning curve for a 3-D printer isn't as steep when you can download specifications and computer-control programs for the parts you want, but making a simple firearm in a machine shop isn't rocket surgery, either.
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Old February 24, 2013, 04:26 PM   #3
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I recently read something about people making magazines for their handguns with them. I don't remember if they actually worked or not, but just the idea sounds awesome. Especially if there is a mag capacity ban...
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Old February 24, 2013, 04:43 PM   #4
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Yes, it does work:

http://www.foxnews.com/tech/2013/02/...-new-gun-laws/
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Old February 24, 2013, 05:02 PM   #5
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That's very cool! Any idea how much one of these printers would cost? Also would it be possible for the reloading community to take advantage of these and make casings, or maybe even bullets?
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Old February 24, 2013, 05:25 PM   #6
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In my opinion, this thing about 3-D printers is COMPLETELY bogus when it comes to firearms, unless they develop one that prints in heat treated metals.

Otherwise, it's easier to make a functioning firearm out of scrap metal.
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Old February 24, 2013, 06:06 PM   #7
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I want one that prints loaded ammo by the case.
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Old February 24, 2013, 06:17 PM   #8
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The Makerbot printers range around the $2000 mark, and I think it's about $50 per spool of the plastic printing material. 3-D printing of metal parts is possible right now with EXTREMELY expensive printers that use layer sintering of powdered metals. Not sure how far that particular method has come though.
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Old February 24, 2013, 06:38 PM   #9
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MyfoxOrlando.com, In The Line of Fire...

I saw a media report on the website; www.myfoxorlando.com about 3D digital images & machines that could in the near future, use CAD/lasers to create polymer weapons.
There are a lot of issues to work out; ammunition, engineering, R&D, etc.
The reporter did bring up the slick polymer firearm actor John Malkovich uses against Clint Eastwood's tough guy US Secret Service agent in the 1993 action thriller; In The Line of Fire, www.imfdb.org .

It's a interesting concept but its still decades away.

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Old February 24, 2013, 07:13 PM   #10
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I don't see why all the buzz about polymer

The technology to make a 1911 is over 100 years old, and quality steel is not hard to obtain.

As interesting as the 3-D printing technology is, the technology that modern metal lathes utilize is more amazing.

For some reason 3D printing has piqued the interest of computer and Internet geeks but anyone who can learn how to make parts out of polymer can make parts out of metal. Black market gun shops will open up if ever the United States flat out prohibits firearms.
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Old February 24, 2013, 08:56 PM   #11
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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.

It's a TV gimmick now. Someday, maybe, but not now.
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Old February 24, 2013, 09:07 PM   #12
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3-D Printers

I would be more impressed with a Cnc ultra precision boring/engraving device on the cheap. Maybe someday...
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Old February 24, 2013, 09:08 PM   #13
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You have to remember that when we're dealing with anti-gun politicians, we're dealing with morons.

The same people who thought and some who still think that putting nylon over lead bullets creates armor piercing bullets, the same people who thought and some still think that "plastic" guns can evade metal detectors, the same people who still do think that certain rifles are capable of shooting down commercial jets in and around airports (I heard that claim just a month ago) and of course in one case we're dealing with at least one politician who believes that Guam might tip over if too many Marines got on it.

So anyone who knows anything about firearms knows that an all-polymer firearm isn't going to work, but your average anti-gun politician sees a computer geek holding a plastic AR-15 replica that he "printed" in his bedroom,

and they are going to freak out.
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Old February 24, 2013, 09:19 PM   #14
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Quote:
I would be more impressed with a Cnc ultra precision boring/engraving device on the cheap. Maybe someday...
Exactly. With a little bit of practice and a supply of good stock to feed the machine, you can make guns or whatever else using someone else's program to run the CNC machine, just like what's being proposed with the 3-D printers.

The difference is, you can make a durable, functional firearm with the CNC technology that's available *today*.
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Old February 24, 2013, 10:25 PM   #15
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aircraft...

I read the non fiction book by the USMC Scout-Sniper in OIF(Iraq). I think it was Sniper or Sniper-something. The author, a senior NCO, wrote that US military snipers are trained to disable aircraft. Using large caliber long range rifles; .300 Win Magnum, .338 Lapua, .50BMG etc.
He also said he could not go into details due to OPSEC(security reasons).
It seems valid that you could ground or damage an aircraft on the airstrip but it would take a ADA(air defense) system or weapon(stinger, RPG-07, SAM) to bring down a aircraft in the air.

Clyde
PS: bright laser aimers or strobes would do more damage. It's part of a Tom Clancy novel storyline(with CIA officer "John Clark").
Several morons in my metro area have been arrested for waving bright laser pointers at LE helicopters. One was a security guard age; 29.
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Old February 25, 2013, 05:37 AM   #16
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I have used 3D printers quite a bit at work.

You are going to have 4 basic issues:
1) the material printed is pretty weak plastic on the affordable machines. You are not printing Glocks. You are printing something much weaker. Not sure if it is weak due to printing, or just the material properties. It works great for prototyping and even testing low strength products. Slightly better materials can be printed out of the $100k+ machines.

2) You only have material strength in one plane. Across the layers, it is super weak. This is because you only have the bonded strength across the grain.

3) Surface finish is pretty rough. I tried to make calipers once, but i had to handwork a lot to make them slide or read right!

4) You $10000 plus to buy the most basic machine. You need $100's for each print cartridge. Last, the one I kept going need service every 3 months.

I think I could have printed AR mags that would work, maybe a lower. No way I'm printing a working 1911 or Glock. You could probably design some shotgun pressure zip gun that uses 410 shotshells at reduced pressure. Zip guns are probably easier to make with common plumbing materials!

Last edited by Nathan; February 25, 2013 at 06:17 AM.
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Old February 25, 2013, 06:03 AM   #17
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I know they can be used to make shapes, but can they make a spring? I don't see how they could ever make a spring out of plastic. Without springs, a gun won't work. And I don't think they've ever made a completely plastic gun, only certain parts. I'd be surprised if they had made a barrel.
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Old February 25, 2013, 07:11 AM   #18
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One of my buddies has a stratasys sytem (http://www.stratasys.com/Products/Overview.aspx. )We have made gears that mesh, a hand with hinges, even a daddy long legs. The material when don would remind you of the styrofoam balls you made planets from in preschool. You could make a mechanically working 1911 less springs in the machine with no problem. It would never fire without steel hammer and firing pin.
The metal 3-d printer that someone else mentioned would make a part with similar texture. They glue powdered metal in levels .002-.005 thick and build up layer after layer in 2-d. The layers when stacked make a 3-d part. From there they put them in a heat treating oven and sinter the particles of steel together. What you end up with resembles a investment casting (aka-lost wax, MIM).

You could do all that and spend thousands $$, hundreds of hours learning how to run CAD, the printer, and heat treating. Or go to the hardware store pickup some pipe fitting and put a shotgun shell inside. For under $20 and an hour of your time.
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Old February 25, 2013, 07:38 AM   #19
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i've personally used one. i know it cost $4000. it took 13hrs to build a model that was not very complex and only about 8x8x5. The quality was very poor. i could have pressed down with my palm on the table and turned it into 10x10x3. i can only imagine the cost of a 3d printer that would actually turn out a decent, high tolerance, high density part.
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Old February 25, 2013, 08:13 AM   #20
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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.
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Old February 25, 2013, 08:38 AM   #21
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Quote:
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.
3-D printers have been around for at least 20 years. Any of the "plastic" printers would have a catastrofic failure 1st shot, if you could get the lower to hold together for assembly.
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Old February 25, 2013, 07:21 PM   #22
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even the highest quality plastic autos use reingforceing steel/aluminum alloy internal skeletons for strength and durability.

the cost to do it right is way way out of the average person. the poeple who could afford to do it, are in the income bracket that is taking guns away from us..
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Old February 25, 2013, 07:25 PM   #23
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3-D Printers

Yeah. The idea that you can make a fully functioning and lasting firearm and magazine is possible to some extent but the durability at this point is questionable. The stories are adding to the gun fear hype that the media wants to promote.
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Old February 25, 2013, 08:17 PM   #24
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Wouldn't the printer be more valuable in making a mold for casting, than trying to actually print the final part? I mean, using a printed, plastic part that is used to create a mold for a normal lost-wax style casting?
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Old February 25, 2013, 08:26 PM   #25
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Maybe the next invention will be a 3D printer with time machine capability that can print me out an original NIB Colt Peacemaker!
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