Print 36 comment(s) - last by Piiman.. on Dec 29 at 3:39 PM

3D printed AR lower receiver doesn't meet expectations

One of the more interesting technologies for creating rapid prototypes and other items is 3D printing. 3D printing is capable of producing just about anything you can imagine from implantable cartilage for medical uses, to prototype parts and even weapons.

A project called Defense Distributed has been working on 3D printer files that allow users to create components to build their own guns using a 3D printer. A group of testers used a 3D printed gun part design from creator HaveBlue to produce an AR lower receiver (the lower receiver is a key component of the weapon that receives the rifle cartridge from the magazine) and headed to the gun range.

Unfortunately, it appears that recoil pressure in the completed weapon was too much for the buffer section of the 3D printed lower. The buffer is a section that separates the stock from the upper receiver reports NBC News. The part failed after firing only six shots. To make the failure even more embarrassing, the testers were using ammunition specifically designed for lower recoil.
The creator of the part claims to have printed his own and used it to fire hundreds of rounds.
While the firearm breaking in half while in operation seems to offer the potential for harm to the shooter and those nearby, the testers say that the only damage the operator faces is that of ego. When the weapon failed, the spring and buffer popped out of the tube and fell to the ground according to the testers.

Sources: NBC News, WikiWep DevBlog

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RELAX! All is well. Please do not panic.
By Misty Dingos on 12/4/2012 10:14:19 AM , Rating: -1
Cue all the tech types that say this is the end of the world because the GOVERNMENT will now ban 3d printing.

Cue the anti-gun twits that will freak out that little Johny will not print out a mini-gun and take out the entire town.

Cue the gun rights paranoids that will freak out that the government is coming for their guns.

Everyone will over react to what is essentially a non-event. A failure of technology. Sure someday somebody will be able to print out themselves a gun. A real gun. Not a gun part. They will be able to wreak havoc with it.

Welcome to the future with new challenges. If you don't like it walk to a beach, enter the water until it is over your head. Stay until breathing ceases.

I am not being cruel or flippant. The future is not going to stop because of the whiners, paranoids or the government. Get in or get out that is your only choice.

RE: RELAX! All is well. Please do not panic.
By jaysan on 12/4/2012 11:22:52 AM , Rating: 5
Cue the cuers to keep cuing in on every possibility, real or imaginary.

RE: RELAX! All is well. Please do not panic.
By Misty Dingos on 12/4/12, Rating: 0
RE: RELAX! All is well. Please do not panic.
By Armageddonite on 12/5/2012 10:32:55 AM , Rating: 2
Way to take off-topic time-wasting to an epic new level, especially on the first post. I'm surprised you didn't go ahead and fulfill Godwin's law in the process.

On topic: I'm sure it's just a matter of finding the right printing material and/or printing pattern for that type of application. There shouldn't be a universal answer for all uses.

RE: RELAX! All is well. Please do not panic.
By Misty Dingos on 12/5/12, Rating: 0
By Piiman on 12/29/2012 3:39:57 PM , Rating: 2
" Think of the unique weapons that could be produced. It would be magical."

and it will be called the iGun

By tigz1218 on 12/8/2012 8:24:06 PM , Rating: 2
Hey buddy, FU-CUE ;)

RE: RELAX! All is well. Please do not panic.
By shanej on 12/4/2012 11:41:45 AM , Rating: 2
I'm not surprised at all that it failed at that point. They are already making polymer lower receivers that hold up just fine to full sized 5.56 or .233 rounds.

RE: RELAX! All is well. Please do not panic.
By shanej on 12/4/2012 11:44:06 AM , Rating: 2
I realized my two thoughts kind of contradict each other. I'm not surprised it failed there as it is the area that sees the most force.

However, they are making polymer lowers that are holding up just fine so it can be done.

RE: RELAX! All is well. Please do not panic.
By Adonlude on 12/5/2012 12:30:57 PM , Rating: 5
No it is not the area that sees the most force, not by a long shot. The title of this article is misleading as all the most intricate and stressed parts of an AR-15 were not printed.

The explosion happens in the upper which contains a steel barrel, chamber, and bolt assembly. A bullet is loaded into the chamber which surrounds the bullet casing while the tip of the bullet extends into the start of the barrel. The bolt assembly presses in behind the bullet and is held tight for the massive 50,000ish PSI explosion that takes place then the bolt assembly slides back and is slowed by a basic spring in a buffer tube right behind it.

All this thunder and ligntning takes place in the upper. The lower is just a nice frame that the upper sits on. The lower holds a magazine, handle, trigger assembly, and shoulder stock which houses the buffer tube.

Nobody is going to be 3-D printing a gun until cheap 3-D printers are cranking out hardened steel parts on your desktop.

By Schrag4 on 12/6/2012 3:38:39 PM , Rating: 2
To be fair, I think he meant that the part where the lower broke is the part of the lower that sees the most force. The rearward force from the bolt and buffer basically "bounces off" the buffer tube, which is attached to the lower precisely where the lower failed. Think of how the buffer tube attaches. If you pull straight back on that part of the lower, since it's only attached to the lower at the "bottom" of the buffer tube, and since that printed material flexes easier than aluminum of the same thickness, that part of the lower will flex and allow the buffer tube to move downward, pivoting on the lower. IMO, no surprise at all that it failed there.

Assuming you don't dry-fire the lower with no upper attached, which can damage even standard aluminum lowers (would probably shatter this printed lower), I'd guess that the next largest force the lower sees is probably from the pistol grip. I'm sure the pin for the hammer probably exerts quite a bit of force for a very brief period of time, but that force isn't being exerted in a place where it can really snap anything off.

By FaaR on 12/5/2012 10:59:30 PM , Rating: 1
Those (commercial) polymer parts undoubtedly use better/more suited materials than in this case, so that hardly proves anything regarding the viability of DIY 3D printing of firearms...

RE: RELAX! All is well. Please do not panic.
By 91TTZ on 12/4/2012 2:23:46 PM , Rating: 2
I don't see what the uproar is about. It's easy enough to make a gun out of real steel using machines that have been available for hundreds of years.

RE: RELAX! All is well. Please do not panic.
By Armageddonite on 12/5/2012 10:35:58 AM , Rating: 2
This is about a new way of doing things though...if they can perfect this, there'll be no shortage of replacement parts for soldiers in the field.

By twhittet on 12/11/2012 12:08:03 PM , Rating: 2
I don't remember having a "shortage of replacement parts" while I was in the field.

If a major part of my weapon failed - I am not so sure I would trust a part printed in an easy bake oven to have the same strict specifications of a factory made part.

Cool tech - yes. Changing the battlefield anytime soon - no.

"Nowadays you can buy a CPU cheaper than the CPU fan." -- Unnamed AMD executive
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