November 9th, 2013

Future Tech: 3D Metal Printing of Gun Parts and 1911 Pistol

Could your next metal scope rings, trigger guard, or muzzle brake be crafted with a 3D printing process? It’s possible. In fact, a wide variety of metal parts (even a complete handgun) can be printed using the latest 3D Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS) process. The way this works is as follows: powdered metal is heated by a laser, causing the metal particles to fuse and solidify. This is progressively repeated, in vertically-stacked layers, until the entire metal part is complete. It’s like building a metal layer cake with the shape/size of each thin layer defined by a precise laser beam. The laser is guided by computer-controlled servos following a CAD “blueprint”.

This video demonstrates how metal parts are 3D printed using the DMLS process. This technology is offered by Solid Concepts, a leading rapid prototyping and manufacturing services company.

The Solid Concepts 1911 — World’s First 3D-Printed Metal Firearm

Solid Concepts has manufactured the world’s first 3D-printed metal gun using a laser sintering process and powdered metals. The gun, a .45 acp 1911 clone, has already handled 50 rounds of successful live-fire testing. A 1911 design was chosen because the “blueprint” is public domain. The gun is composed of thirty-three, 17-4 Stainless Steel and Inconel 625 components, crafted through the DMLS process. Even the carbon fiber-filled hand grips are 3D printed, using a Selective Laser Sintered (SLS) process.

3D metal printing 1911 DMLS Solid Concepts

Except for the springs, all the parts of this 1911 handgun were printed using the metal laser sintering process. Yes even the highly-polished slide, the barrel, the frame, and the hammer were printed. There are no forgings, castings, or conventionally-machined parts. With the exception of springs, all 30+ components in this prototype pistol were printed using Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS) technology. Watch the video for a glimpse into the future of gun-making:

World’s First 3D-Printed Metal Gun Test Firing

Solid Concepts believes that its fully-functional, 3D-printed 1911 handgun proves the viability of 3D printing for gun parts, even highly-stressed components. Kent Firestone, V.P. of Additive Manufacturing at Solid Concepts, states: “We’re proving this is possible, the technology is at a place now where we can manufacture a gun with 3D metal printing. And we’re doing this legally. In fact, as far as we know, we’re the only 3D printing service provider with a Federal Firearms License (FFL). Now, if a qualifying customer needs a unique gun part in five days, we can deliver.”

3D metal printing 1911 DMLS Solid Concepts

Will we see complete 3D-printed metal guns on the market soon? That’s unlikely. It’s still more economical to produce complete guns the old-fashioned way. However, we may see 3D printing used for rapid prototyping. In addition, 3D metal printing has advantages for hard-to-machine parts with complex geometries. Solid Concepts reports that its 3D printed metal has fewer porosity issues than an investment cast part and better complexities than a machined part. It will be interesting to see what unfolds in the years ahead.

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November 9th, 2013

Modern Custom Guns (2d. Edition) To Be Released in December

Custom Guns Second Edition Tom Turpin riflesThe first edition of Modern Custom Guns hit bookstores 16 years ago. Next month Gun Digest will release the long-awaited Second Edition of Modern Custom Guns. This is a richly-illustrated, 8.2″x11″ hard-cover book, with approximately 200 color photos. Written by Tom Turpin and published by Gun Digest Books, this 208-page volume is now available for pre-order, with a December 11, 2013 release date.

CLICK for FREE Preview of Modern Custom Guns

This 208-page Second Edition of Modern Custom Guns is not just a coffee-table book. In addition to the nice color photography, the book examines the processes and techniques used to craft ultra-high-end custom rifles. Author Turpin has interviewed many gifted rifle-makers and artisans who create showpiece rifles. Turpin explains how these craftsman work magic with wood and metal. Specific chapters are dedicated to: Stock-making, Metal-smithing, Actions, Barrels, Sights, Engraving/carving, and other topics. Chapter 10 spotlights two dozen master engravers, while Chapter 11 profiles 39 leading custom gun-builders. A helpful Appendix provides contact information for custom gun-makers and engravers.

Custom Guns Second Edition Tom Turpin rifles

About the Author – Tom Turpin has been a professional writer in the outdoor industry for over 40 years. He has written several hundred published articles, four books, and he is presently a contributing editor to the Gun Digest Annual.

In this new edition of Modern Custom Guns, Tom Turpin sought to showcase the exceptional craftsmanship found in high-end customs. Tom explains: “My preference runs to classic styling, and I follow the principle that if any one facet of a custom rifle immediately jumps out at you, it is surely overdone. Quiet elegance is best for me.”

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