3D Printed Handguard/Rail/Foregrip/Light Mount

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Tonio emailed me these photos of a handguard for a Tippman paintball gun designed by a colleague of his and then printed on a Dimension Elite 3D Printer. The handguard incorporates three picatinny rails, an angled forgrip and a flashlight mount.

Solidworks rendering of the handguard

The Dimension Elite 3D Printer prints a polymer called ABSplus. Tonio reports it has been tough enough to survive a few paintballs games without damage.

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Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


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  • Reverend Clint

    hmm i bet the nagles grip with integrated flashlight or laser would be a fast seller. Watch for it to come from Magpul in 5 years

  • Ray

    Now this is interesting… Another interesting point recently is that someone introduced to the Maker world a Nylon 6 extruder (A Nylon 6 derivative is used in Glock pistols). Are we approaching the time of an open source firearm that anyone with a 3D printer would be able to make? Interesting times!

  • Tom – UK

    One thing that I cannot help but wonder is as the technology for 3D printing increases will it possibly include metals and harder more durable polymers?

    if so I wonder if there would be a chance of someone printing themselves an unmarked and unlicensed firearm as a “saturday night special” or for day to day use.

    Far off I know but the idea alone of unmarked part being produced is significant enough.

    • MrDakka

      You can create metal parts with selective laser sintering (SLS) machines, but they are normally out of the price range of consumers.

      • noob

        There’s a cheap way in to laser sintering

        http://www.shapeways.com

        You submit your 3d model. the dudes at shapeways hand check it for buildability and then send it to you in your choice of material for a very reasonable fee.

        they *do* have a “no weapons” policy, but other companies could arise that don’t mind making weapon parts.

        One cool thing about the shapeways business model is that you can elect to display your 3d model in a “store” that is “yours”. other people can ask to build your model and you get a cut.

        a lot of people are making a lot of money with custom keychains and napkin holders and the like.

    • Rangefinder

      I can make my own pottery, but I rather buy dinnerware at the store. The quality and consistency is better. Also the time required to develop a comparable product is not worth my time. If I am in college and want to develope pottery for a living, I learn the required skills as a hobby and with structured education.

    • Sian

      Why not? It’s legal to make your own firearms from scratch without any sort of registration or license as long as you don’t violate NFA, and you don’t sell or transfer it.

      • Rangefinder

        In keeping with the previous example, nothing prevents you from baking your own pottery. Like you indicated, don’t expect to sell a line of commercial grade pottery or use it in a commercial application. No sense embarrassing yourself or worse. Again, as a hobby is fine.

    • RocketScientist

      Rapid-prototyping/3D-printing technology is rapidly advancing. It is already possible to make relatively low-strength metal parts using this tech, and the variety of plastics/polymers being used increases almost every day, with a wide range of mechanical material properties available. It is very believable that someday soon, you will be able to print a polymer firearm’s frame. Of course without significant advances in materials technology, some parts will need to be made from non-extrudable materials (steel, ceramics, etc) like the barrel etc. As an example, there are AR15 lower data files freely available on the internet. I have seen several websites where people with small hobbyist CNC mills (not outside the realm of ownership for most of us) were making receivers out of aluminum, or even cheap Delrin (though the Delrin ones were used only for a .22 conversion upper, for good reason). So it’s possible NOW to download a file, throw in some stock material, and in a few hours have a workable “firearm”. Being able to do the same with 3D printing is not far off. As for the legality, as Sian mentions above, it is completely legal (in the US) to manufacture a firearm at home for your personal use. And while the ATF recommends you mark it with some form of serial number and record this (for insurance, in case of theft, etc.) it is not at all a requirement. And to correct Sian slightly, I am 90% sure (though of course check before doing any of this) that you are even allowed to transfer these firearms to others (as gift or sale) so long as this is not a regular business for you (ie, gift to a friend, selling one or two to make room in your collection… think along the same rules governing private-sale of firearms @ a gunshow with no background check, waiting period etc.). Though if the guns ever are transferred from your possession, you are REQUIRED to permanently mark with a serial number of some kind (again, please check all these laws before doing anything, my username ain’t Lawyer).

      • http://suburbansdomain.blogspot.com/ Suburban

        In Pennsylvania, and probably a few other states, all handgun transfers, beyond immediate family (like father-to-son or vice versa), must be done through a licensed dealer. I believe this also applies to frames/receivers that can be made into either a rifle or a pistol. So just be careful of private sales of homemade handguns or frames. Check your state laws.

  • Trev

    Paintball on a firearms blog. No thanks.

    • http://kalescliff.blogspot.com/ Thomas Everett Haynes

      I think i was meant more as a proof of concept on something that may soon enter the marketplace for firearms. Alpha testing on paintball seems totally legitimate.

  • hikerguy

    I think the concept is sound, epecially for the shorter barreled carbines used for PDWs.

  • Mark

    That is, until the barrel heats up and the whole mount cracks. This design will work well for paintball, not a live firearm. But it shows some pretty good thought for its intended application.

  • Charles222

    Thats a paintball gun? Looks more like airsoft to me.

    • Jared

      Tippmann has been trying to make paintball guns look more like real guns for a long time. It kind of filled a niche where paintball guns weren’t war like enough and airsoft paint markers weren’t very good.

      • charles222

        Oh, ok. Thanks :)

      • Bryan S.

        Thats because they used to make firearms until the 86 ban almost put them out of business.

      • Chrontius

        I think Tippman is the only company who makes a decent select-fire “marking device” in the X7 series. Everyone else uses one-button electropneumatic things which, like cheap tactical flashlights, cycle through modes with each press, and you better hope you don’t lose a fight due to a “Now, did I push the mode-select button six times or only five? Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement I kind of lost track myself” moment.

        No, Tippman gives you a H&K style fire-selector, and they put the feed mechanism out of the way of the upper sight rail. I want to love a cheaper gun, but so many companies do stupid stuff like put an inch-thick vertical feed directly through the middle of what is nominally a scope rail.

        I hope Tippman encourages this sort of thing in the future.

  • West

    This is cool.
    What we are seeing now is just the tip of the iceberg and im afraid that as the technology steps up the gubmint is going to step in and put restrictions on printing firearms components. When some jack ass kills somebody with a frame/slide/barrel he printed at home its going to be over for the rest of us.

    Speaking of technology in general im reading ‘Wired for War: Robotics and Warfare in the 21st Century” and it is really interesting.

    • bbmg

      A functioning gun can be made using standard pipe fittings, a nail and rubber band, I don’t think we need fear a mass increase in home made firearms. A gun is useless without ammunition. What we should fear is some kind of nano device that could print the structure of an explosive, although by that time there would probably be a lot more terrifying things than explosions around.

      • Tinkerer

        To be fair, one can concoct a crude “explosive” with “Stump Remover”, sugar or charcoal, and a pinch of fungicidal sulfur.

  • Dan

    I had the pleasure to work with a similar printer over the past couple of months, ABS is very sturdy stuff. The bracket I was working on was only about 1.5 mm thick, yet could take a 400 N load. Not sure about the fracture strength, though.

  • John Doe

    I hope we can soon print out our own parts for firearms. I’d like to build a light single-rail handguard with a built-in foregrip. I’d like to build a pistol grip custom-molded to my hand. This is the future in firearms customizing.

  • Pepin the Short

    Don’t backup iron sights seem a mite… superfluous… on a paintball gun?

    • Paintball guy

      Yes but then again doesnt a whole shroud with an angled foregrip, and a flashlight mount too? Its not about the functionality, it is about the mil-sim scenario aspect.

  • http://rapid-print.net Ajit

    it looks like an original.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kyzer.sosay.7 Kyzer Sosay

    The barrel will always have to be metal if you want it to last past 4 shots.

  • Jake W

    WHY ARE WE NOT FUNDING THIS