3D Printing

That 3D-Printed Handgun You've Been Waiting For Is Here

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3D printed handgun
Michael Thad Carter for Forbes

Remember when Defense Distributed's Cody Wilson promised to unveil an entirely 3D-printed handgun made of ABS plastic with the firing pin its only metal part? Well, he's apparently done it. Forbes's Andy Greenberg was given a sneak peek of the result, and it looks and appears to be quite an achievement. If all goes well, the plans will be unveiled at Defcad.org next week.

Writes Greenberg:

Eight months ago, Cody Wilson set out to create the world's first entirely 3D-printable handgun.

Now he has.

Early next week, Wilson, a 25-year University of Texas law student and founder of the non-profit group Defense Distributed, plans to release the 3D-printable CAD files for a gun he calls "the Liberator," pictured in its initial form above. He's agreed to let me document the process of the gun's creation, so long as I don't publish details of its mechanics or its testing until it's been proven to work reliably and the file has been uploaded to Defense Distributed's online collection of printable gun blueprints at Defcad.org.

All sixteen pieces of the Liberator prototype were printed in ABS plastic with a Dimension SST printer from 3D printing company Stratasys, with the exception of a single nail that's used as a firing pin. The gun is designed to fire standard handgun rounds, using interchangeable barrels for different calibers of ammunition.

Some people have asked why you would bother to print a gun like this when you can purchase a stronger, more durable gun made from traditional materials. The answer should be obvious: This is an exercise in political theater, to demonstrate that technology is empowering individuals by stripping governments of the ability to enforce restrictions. Yes, you can make guns in a host of ways, including the similarly advanced technology of CNC machines. But 3D printing is a hot and increasingly accessible technology that has been specifically called out by the president. To use it to so easily defeat restrictions (or outright prohibitions) is to demonstrate the limits of the coercive power of the state.

Update: Rep. Steve Israel proposes an impotent ban on plastic homemade guns and ammunition magazines.

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  1. “political theate”? Spell check

  2. This advancement is going to get so many children killed. By the police.

    1. This was my first thought as well. But why limit it to children? When the public can “print guns”, presumably that can look like anything, it just gives more credence to the “I thought he had a gun” defense the police like to use.

      1. Enterprising officers will want to print out a few for themselves for framing.

        Or even just the basic shell, enough to show the framee deserved to die, and their dog too.

      2. We are already there, have been for a while. Wasn’t one of the characters in “Casino” killed when the cops mistook his hero sandwich for a gun? If I recall, that incident came from an actual encounter.

  3. Awesome. Cody Wilson is truly doing the Lord’s work.

    1. Hope he doesn’t have an “accident”.

    2. Cody Wilson is truly doing the Lord’s work

      … in some of the toughest neighborhoods.

      /joe

  4. Another small step in HEAP (Holocaust Education and Avoidance Pod).

  5. Damn that is ugly! I mean, it’s a great achievement and all, but couldn’t they at least make it all one color? Even crazy Doc Brown knew the value of aesthetics when he built his first time machine with a DeLorean chassis.

    1. hah! My first thought was that it looked a little like a phaser. I guess it just shows that the normal accepted form factor devices is mostly a matter of history.

      1. Look at the other picture Forbes published. It looks like a fancy zipgun. I really do not think the 3D printer is needed to make a plastic zip gun, need to know more about the materials used in the high pressure areas.

  6. Cody Wilson to the U.S. Government:

    “Because fuck you, that’s why.”

    Well done, Mr. Wilson, well done.

  7. It looks like a weed sprayer.

  8. Tip of the barrel needs to be orange.

    1. Does enamel paint work on that plastic like it works on computer plastic?

      1. I don’t know, but they could, you know, just print the tip of the barrel in orange.

        1. Does the right plastic come in orange?

    2. It’s just as illegal to put an orange tip on a real gun as it is to remove it from an airsoft. Don’t do that.

  9. Zoomy.

  10. 3D printing is a hot and increasingly accessible technology that has been specifically called out by the president.

    A virtual 3D wedgie?

  11. Better be prepared to use it, because the looks aren’t going to be a deterrent to anyone.

    1. Better be prepared to use it,

      This would be the same advice for any weapon.

    2. If you had time-transported even the most bad-ass looking pistol to pre-gunpowder Europe, when a sword was the top weapons technology, the looks wouldn’t have been a deterrent, either.

      After the first few bodies pile up from these, they will gain respect.

      1. “This is my BOOMSTICK!”

        1. “DefCAD’s top of the line!”

        2. Quote should be required for any thread involving firearms.

      2. Robert Sheckley would love this thread.

  12. I’m wouldn’t want to fire a gun coming off these printers, at least until the verification technology progresses. I can easily see a void somewhere that can’t take the firing pressure and the thing blows up in your hand.

    Not mention it looks like a squirt gun.

    1. Yeah. Modern weapons are so reliable and well made we forget just how dangerous they can be to the user. I really don’t want to be the first the guy to shoot this thing.

  13. Is it just me, or is that trigger super-tiny? How do you fire the damn thing?

    1. Looking at the bigger pictures on the Forbes site, the trigger has broken off. Thus the whole thing about testing and the design is not yet perfected.

      1. Disagree. I think it is being set up for a break trigger safety or whatever you call them.

  14. If the politicians aren’t freaked out, I’m skeptical about its effectiveness.

    1. It is not hard or that expensive to buy a handgun. I am not sure why you would make this other than just to say you did it. But this is the first one. Give it ten years.

      1. I am not sure why you would make this other than just to say you did it.

        Because you made it in your garage. It is unregistered. Hell, there isn’t even a sales receipt at a gun shop. There is literally no record of this gun’s existence. Plus you can make hundreds of them a week.

        1. Plus you can melt it down and destroy the ballistics evidence.

        2. Given what you say, why aren’t the politicians wetting themselves?

          1. Dude, politicians are just getting around to wetting themselves about the internet. They’ll discover this sometime in the 2020’s.

            1. Which won’t stop them from passing a 400 page bill that inadvertently outlaws waffle irons and hair dryers, makes possession of Play-Doh a felony, and criminalizes the unlicensed practice of trigonometry.

        3. Same with metal guns made in a CNC machine, which uses the same blueprints, so I am told.

          Going the 80% lower route can produce a great metal rifle with no serial number too, but there is still a receipt for the parts. Not sure on making a good 1911 with that method.

          1. There are the receipts for the parts, but you only have to buy the lower part from a firearms dealer. The rest of it you can order anonymously and pretty easily cover your tracks. The real fun here is when they can make metal parts and you can print your own 1911 or whatever.

            1. Regarding ARs, which is where I have actual experience, but something like a 1911 would be the same, you can buy all the parts at say, a gun show, cash and carry, including the lower. FRNs, no trace. An 80% lower is not considered a firearm. So, there doesn’t have to be any paperwork with your identity at all. CNC, or there’s a jig for a manual mill. There are other legalities afterward; do study up before you get into it.

        4. All true. But I am not seeing the value of that beyond criminality. And is this weapon really effective enough to do much of anything beyond walk up and shoot someone in the head? If you are some drug dealer who might some day get in a gun fight, is this the weapon you want untraceable or no?

          1. But I am not seeing the value of that beyond criminality.

            If and when there should be a time where the citizens of this country have to take up arms against a tyrannical government, why not put one of these in every citizens’ hand?

            1. Because there are hundreds of millions of better weapons available? I see your point but the government would have to do one hell of a complete job of gun confiscation for that to make sense.

              The other problem is ammunition. Lets figure out a way to easily manufacture ammunition in the home and then you are cooking with peanut oil as they say.

              1. Sure, there are much better weapons out there. But the prospect that there is a pistol behind every door, inside every briefcase, under every car seat, should make the government and its agents think twice. That hesitation is the difference between tyranny and liberty.

                1. If it gets that bad, you will want to be making bombs not handguns.

              2. Reloading ammo is very easy, and cheap. I mean it’s faster to reload 50 rnds than it is for me to run to the store and buy 50 rnds.

                1. Reloading is real easy, if you have access to plenty of powder. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to manufacture that stuff yourself along with 3d printing any casings and shells you need? That is what I am talking about.

                  1. Hey, Captain Kirk made powder really easily on that episode of Star Trek. Handfull of this, handfull of that, mix it…and gunpowder!

              3. Re: John,

                The other problem is ammunition. Lets figure out a way to easily manufacture ammunition in the home and then you are cooking with peanut oil as they say.

                The Israelis were able to make cartridges out of lipstick tubes during the Arab-Israeli civil war, right under the noses of the British troops (one has to remember that the tube were in those times made of brass)

                Making a cartridge is really not that difficult.

                1. No it is not. But making powder can be.

                  1. Is it? It’s obviously dangerous if you’re not careful, but gunpowder is hardly cutting-edge tech.

              4. Incidentally, is it ever going to be feasible to print ammo? Or is that too complex?

            2. And I mean ammunition from scratch or very easily obtainable materials.

              1. Depends on how you define “easily obtainable.”

                The 3d printing technology used for this pistol could easily be used to print a rifled black powder gun. Fertilizer, charcoal and sulfur are all terribly easy to obtain. Forming your own bullets whether it be from lead, plastic, or tumbled rocks is simple.

                Point is, we’ve already reached the point where innovation will eventually strip government of its power.

                1. Not only that, but we’re only concentrating on black powder. It’s -really- easy to make an explosive. That’s why terrorists generally use explosives.

            3. If and when there should be a time where the citizens of this country have to take up arms against a tyrannical government, why not put one of these in every citizens’ hand?

              Kind of like a 21st century Liberator.

              1. About the same level of aesthetics, too.

              2. Kind of like a 21st century Liberator.

                This gun is called the Liberator too.

          2. But I am not seeing the value of that beyond criminality

            It is called a proof of concept. Though this iteration could fill the same role as the FP-45 Liberator

            1. True. As I said, lets see what they are printing in ten years.

              1. Shold have read the whole thread before posting my above comment. I shouldn’t be too surprised that someone else saw the parallel.

      2. Christ, it’s like you guys didn’t read through to the end of what was, in truth, a short post.

      3. 10 Years? Try a couple of weeks. It took him 12 hours of work to do the Cuomo and Feinstein magazine.

        The point of this exercise is to demonstrate how ineffective and stupid the gun grabber’s laws.

  15. Is there a way they could make it look a little less toy like?

  16. The Playskool color scheme is probably just so you can actually see the shape and form of the gun. When it is all matte black, I bet that gun looks cool as fuck.

    1. dark cobalt blue, more sci fi ish

  17. The parallels between this effort and some of the actions during the “crypto wars” are about to become surreal. Back then, the USG was drafting a bill (S.B.266) that would have had dire implications for the civilian use of cryptography, and asserting that encryption source code on a floppy disk was a munition, but the same source code in a machine-readable font in a book was, well, just a book.

    What’s the over/under on the BATFE asking Congress to ban CAD files within the next 5 years?

    1. They should ban file sharing while they’re at it. The obliviousness of prohibitionists knows no bounds.

  18. Since the printer has to melt the ABS to form the parts, and brass cartridges get hotter than the melting point of ABS when fired, Tucille owes us a few paras on hot mant shots it takes before this glue gun sticks to itself?

    Also, absent a metal or ceramic barrel or barrel liner what’s to keep the inside of the bore from melting and / or vapoizing, ablating and catching fire as the white- hot gas traverses it.

    If “The gun is designed to fire standard handgun rounds, using interchangeable barrels for different calibers of ammunition.” means you have to provide the tradirional metal bit the bullet comes our of, then it isn’t reallt a printed gun , is it?

    The Makers will have to do better han replacing the rubber band end of a zip gun with plastic to give second amendment rights to the world at large- as described , this gizmo still needs a traditional lathe, boring mill , or if software is all that’s provided , a very expensive CNC machine to deliver the working end.

    1. Well, for one thing, the plastic is in a 3mm hole surrounded by hot metal when it is printed (think hot glue gun tip) whereas the cartridge is surrounded by plastic. Location and duration matter for heating.

      No, Russell, you don’t need to mill the barrel. Just print ones with different caliber holes.

    2. IIRC, the legal “gun” is the lower part that the barrel attaches too, so even having to add a metal barrel, this is really a gun.

    3. You misspelled “hot man-shots”.

      Didn’t you?

      1. I almost spit out my drink, almost. nice one

  19. This seems to be running directly afoul of the undetectable firearms act.

    I have no problem with that, just surprised no one mentioned it.

    1. Forbes actually does mention that specifically. The gun shown there has a 6oz piece of steel inserted to comply.

      1. I stand corrected.
        “Technically, Defense Distributed’s gun has one other non-printed component: the group added a six ounce chunk of steel into the body to make it detectable by metal detectors in order to comply with the Undetectable Firearms Act. In March, the group also obtained a federal firearms license, making it a legal gun manufacturer.”

  20. Welcome to the Diamond Age.

  21. Tucille owes us a few paras on hot mant shots it takes before this glue gun sticks to itself?

    It’s a prototype. Testing to follow.

  22. Uglier than a slice of ‘American’ cheese slapped inside a bisquit.

  23. As I was researching 3D printers, I came across plenty of articles indicating that the technology isn’t limited to plastic. It is potentially possible to do the same thing with a 3D printer that prints stainless steel or aluminum. Yeah, it’s more expensive, uses more energy, etc, but the point is… eventually he’ll be able to make this thing in metal, that will withstand multiple firings.

    CB

    1. NASA’s 3-D printing metal parts for their next big boondoggle rocket.

      http://www.extremetech.com/ext…..ot-plastic

      1. some dutch dude is trying to 3d print a fucking house,surprise he didn’t settle for windmills.

    2. There is something called metalclay which is used by artists and craft-makers. It’s sintered metal in a binder, which is formed like clay and then fired in a small kiln to produces objects (usually jewelry) in pure metal. Brass and steel objects can be created, though the degree of shrinkage in the process will make firearms-level precision difficult.

      1. I swear I did that link correctly and the squirrels screwed it up. How about this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metal_clay

  24. Christ, it’s like you guys didn’t read through to the end of what was, in truth, a short post.

    You must be new; nobody reads the posts.

    1. Saw the picture, and it looked vaguely edible in a non scrumptious, 70s dystopian future kind of way.

      1. Disposable, edible guns. Murderously delicious.

          1. Shoot me, big boy!

          2. If we save just one cavity!

    2. Hey, we read the alt text!

  25. I think the main point is being missed by many people. First, remember that 3D printing is in its infancy. Think 1950’s mainframe computers that take up a room. Now we have computers in our hands which are exponentially more powerful.

    2nd, it’s not how it looks, or even at this point, how it performs. It’s that laws that regulate firearms, even in the instance of keeping them out of the hands of real criminals (not to mention us people just wanting to confirm our 2nd Amendment Rights), are obsolete.

    1. You are right. In 10 years or 20 years, this will look like a Commodore 64. I really see no reason why you won’t eventually be able to print out about anything you want in virtually any material. Gun control is about to become about as effective as digital rights management.

      1. Gun control is about to become about as effective as digital rights management.

        Sadly it won’t stop them from trying.

        1. Of course not.

  26. If you want a feel for what you can do with a decent 3D printer, check out Shapeways. I have been following them from a time when Philips had just founded them and their only material was a “white, strong and flexible” plastic.

    Now they have probably 10 different options for plastics, metals, and ceramics, with varying degrees of smoothness/consistency and strength. Sometimes they melt or dissolve out the placeholder materials where the holes are, in an oven, and other times they just use sintering.

  27. I am just wondering if the barrel is rifled?

  28. Anything that empowers the little people thus making the facists nervous is a great thing.

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