Warning: video runs at sloth-like speedby
Solid Concepts, a company that makes high-end 3D printers and provides custom manufacturing services, has demoed the first working metal handgun created on a 3D printer. The pistol, modeled after the famous Browning M1911 military sidearm, was constructed out of pieces made of metal and carbon fiber (for the handgrips). You can see it in action in the video below.
So why aren’t people freaking out more? After all, when Cody Wilson, law student and leader of non-profit Defense Distributed, demonstrated the 3D printed plastic Liberator handgun (and posted the plans online), the press and the people in the government predictably went nuts, calling for laws restricting 3D printed guns and eventually prompting the State Department to issue a cease and desist letter that forced Defense Distributed to remove the 3D files used to generate the Liberator from its web site. Of course, anyone who knows how to use Google won’t have much trouble downloading them from other sources.
For now, the main reason that few are freaking out over the Solid Concepts gun is because the 3D printer used to create it costs tens of thousands of dollars more than the more common printers that use plastic. While traditional 3D printers use a process called “extrusion” where solid plastic is liquified through heat and forced through a nozzle, the machine used by Solid Concepts uses a process called “sintering” where lasers are used to fuse together metal powder. This method allows for much finer detail than typical “consumer grade” extrusion-based 3D printers and allows users to print using a wide range of materials other than plastic. The video below shows how it works: