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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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They haven't taken the extra step.
By Imaginer on 12/4/2012 5:59:17 PM , Rating: 1
Making your own gun from 3D printing is viable, if you realize that the model you are 3D printing is an intermediary step towards the final product.

Take the 3D model, make your molds for your desired casted metals, take the casted metal and finalize it from imperfections (or verify tolerances of your casting processes) and you will have a MUCH better gun than one out of plastic derivatives.

Sadly, most people stop when they have their 3D printed product finished out the gate and not further realizing the ways to do it right.

RE: They haven't taken the extra step.
By Imaginer on 12/4/2012 6:01:11 PM , Rating: 1
And with a mold, you can mass produce things much faster than the printing rate of a 3D printer.

RE: They haven't taken the extra step.
By RufusM on 12/5/2012 10:24:04 AM , Rating: 3
And with a mold, you can mass produce things much faster than the printing rate of a 3D printer.

Until 3D printing technology catches up. Also, with 3D printing, changes in the production process are purely software. With a mold, you have downtime to change the mold tools in the production chain.

RE: They haven't taken the extra step.
By FITCamaro on 12/5/2012 10:37:13 AM , Rating: 2
You'll likely never be able to make a resilient gun with a 3D printer. At least not at your home. Plastic isn't known for resiliency.

By AssBall on 12/6/2012 2:04:55 PM , Rating: 3
They are working on higher end metal deposit printers that could be very viable. But like you said, these machines aren't something your gonna have in your garage any time soon.

RE: They haven't taken the extra step.
By FaaR on 12/5/2012 10:53:58 PM , Rating: 2
These objects are basically just pure epoxy resin, or something fairly similar. Epoxy on its own is not very strong (especially in tension), and quite brittle - as evidenced here. You simply drop that plastic gun on a hard floor and it's very likely to crack. Doesn't seem very viable - or safe.

Maybe if glass fiber reinforcement could be added automatically during the printing process these items would stand up to some more abusive treatments. Still wouldn't be as tough as glass fiber reinforced thermoplastic of course, but better than now anyway...

By H0rnet on 12/6/2012 4:31:10 PM , Rating: 3
From my understanding of the 3d printing process this is very true currently. At least the models I have seen have been very delicate. However there are newer technologies that are based on laser sintering, where metal powder is used as a feed stock. It's still a more high end process, and the equipment is much more expensive currently.

"Let's face it, we're not changing the world. We're building a product that helps people buy more crap - and watch porn." -- Seagate CEO Bill Watkins
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