3D Printed AR-15

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The mainstream tech press are a buzz about a Arfcommer, HaveBlue, printing and successfully shooting an AR-15 with a 3D-printed lower receiver. He printed the lower using a slightly modified model from cncguns.com on a old Stratasys 3D printer.

A 75% test printout next to the final finished model.

HaveBlue is currently putting together a printed AR-10 on what looks like a DIY 3D printer.

[ Many thanks to Andrew & Seth for emailing us the link. ]

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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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  • noob

    i think it’s been said on this blog before “1st amendment + 2nd amendment = the right to print and bear arms”

    • LLARMS

      Don’t you think the claws on the bear arms would be hard to get quite right?

      But yea some printed bear arms on the wall would be sweet!

  • Tom – UK

    given electronic records can be wiped clean what is there to stop someone from producing a mark free receiver etc? if the technology to do this with metal is developed will people be able to produce firearms overnight and then delete the records so they never existed.

    • Bull

      Tom – UK: you dont need to mark your homemade receiver in the states as far as ive figured out. and seriously… if you are going to make weapons for nefarious deeds… there is no reason to build a 3d printer first! a slamfire shotgun could be made under an hour with basic tools. thats the thing that some people dont understand. firearms are actually really simple from a engineering standpoint.

    • bbmg

      “if the technology to do this with metal is developed”

      If?

      http://www.forecast-3d.com/dmls.html

      They even have a derringer as an example!

      Laser sintering is beyond the reach of the average consumer, but you don’t need sophisticated tools or materials to make a functioning firearm.

    • Unistat

      Tom from the UK: “It’s Freedom baby! Yeah!”

      In other words, in the States (most of them) we don’t care if our guns are untraceable and unregistered any more than hammers, crowbars, or knives. It’s the man that’s criminal, not the tool.

      • bob

        ‘murica!!!!!!! #1

  • Ben

    This is going to be a real hit with the media “Civilians able to produce automatic military style rifles in there own homes” I do have to say, I like the look of it, and it must be able to be customized before being printed off, so it should be quite modular

    • 6677

      Googles sketchup software has exporters available to export to a reprap. Many other CAD softwares do too. Just think, someone chucks out a .skp/dae/obj/blend. They just have to install the correct software and the relevant plugin, then if they want end firearm a bit bigger then they can edit it themselve easily enough. Essentially thats what this guy has done anyway using an existing model intended for CNC machining (and probably very close to actual manufacturers models) and altered it to be suitable for 3d printing, main field I can think of mostly being the bulking up of a few surfaces and adding a few support structures that can be knocked out by hand later.

  • Aurelien

    I’ll say he should have gone with the Cavalry design with the integrated stock. I fear the stock tub witll fly off sometime soon if this is puched a little too hard.

    Funny enought, this kind of part is totally legal in France as long as you have it stamped by the experts at the Saint Etienne weapons center (so they can check it’s a semi-auto build).

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

      Yeah, hope that you never get a round jammed in the chamber. I don’t think that a polymer lower would survive being “mortared.” The process to clear these jams is to grab the charging handle and slam the stock against a solid object. The lower might survive if you had a fixed A1 or A2 stock attached, but I still think the lower would break at the rear somehow.

  • SPC Fish

    you dont even need to go that far with advanced 3d printers. Ive seen AR-15 receivers built out of sheet metal just like an AK receiver. the hardest part is the buffer tube support and threading. but if you look at an AR receiver they really arent all that complex. the only moving parts are the fire control group and that can be shimmed to make it line up and smooth out the action. hell AK receivers arent very hard either and can be made in your garage or basement.

  • Nick Pacific

    I know that name… I used to paintball with this guy.

    He’s pretty crafty.

  • gunslinger

    i haven’t read the arf thread, but i’m hoping the test was more than 30 rounds.

    just a few questions to clear out the cobwebs in my head.
    1) making guns (so long as they are not classified under the NFA “banned/restricted” rulse) is legal for personal use…not to be sold or distributed, correct?
    2) the receiver doesn’t determine the firing “state” of a weapon, it would be the trigger group? i.e. my AR is semi, but if i put the auto trigger group in (and other parts?) i could have a full auto rifle, but i’d be breaking a number of laws.

    thanks

    • Sian

      You’d also need a full auto bolt carrier, but those aren’t restricted at all.

      • gunslinger

        ok. thanks
        i thought it was the internal components, not the actual receiver. (although it’s what needs to be registered as the auto device)

    • RocketScientist

      As far as I understand it, you are correct, with the exception that so far as I know you CAN transfer (sell, gift) firearms you produce in home so long as it is not a business. That is, if you are selling some to make room in your collection, or giving one as a gift to family, etc. Very much like the rules governing a C&R FFL. Where you draw the line between a business and normal exchange of your collection is up to you and what you feel you can justify to the BATFE. Though since the penalty for misjudging is possible federal prison time for arms violations, it’s probably best to err on side of caution. Additionally, I believe you do NOT have to serial them even if they are transferred, although the BATFE strongly recommends you do for legal accountability purposes.

      I am a scientist and engineer, NOT a lawyer. PLEASE do not take anything I say as truth without first verifying the laws in your nation/state/region. (for a non-lawyer I think that was a pretty good disclaimer)

      • Zincorium

        In the GCA, it defines a gun manufacturer or dealer as someone who is performing the task for profit. It’s unfortunately a matter of intent, if you made the gun with the goal of selling it for money, you’re a gun manufacturer, otherwise you’re not. I’m really not sure how they evaluate it, but chances are it has something to do with how long you’ve owned it before selling, and how much you make off of firearm sales.

        If you’re genuinely serious about manufacturing firearms as a hobby, you’d be better off getting an FFL and not worrying about whether they’ll come down on you.

    • noob

      in the case of ar15/m16 rifles the reciever needs an extra hole drilled in it to accept the full auto sear. on the other hand, you could install a pre 86 licenced lightning link and get full auto capability (but not select fire) in an otherwise unmodified ar15

      • Mr Evilwrench

        In fact, with a lower that has clearance for it, it’s possible to make a drop-in autosear assembly that requires no drilling. You can in fact have all M16 internals without an autosear and remain legal. I tend to build them that way. That’s all I know.

  • http://www.kaliber.hu gvass

    I can clearly see the future!
    On a boring Saturday afternoon I will download and print a Saturday Night Special for myself!:-)

    Brave new world!

    • Anonymoose

      Why just print a Saturday Night Special when you can print HK USPs by the hundreds and treat them like Saturday Night Specials?

      • Ben

        Because HK already hate civilians, and we know their guns have a tendancy to melt… ;)

  • junyo

    I’ve been telling people for years that technology was pretty much going to dick punch any gun control law you could come up with, and mentioned 3D printing to a couple of my hippy friends when they were screaming for more gun control this week, which blew their minds. Going having to forward this and set fire to the brain bits they still have left.

    • Michael

      In general, I agree, and am glad to see it. However, some parts probably won’t be well suited for home manufacture, primarily for precision, strength and durability reasons… Barrels in particular. I can easily see a time, 20 years in the future, they change the law to define a “firearm” as being the barrel, serial numbered and background checked, in place of current law where its defined by the receiver.

      • noob

        so, then you’ll need to register ALL your uppers. that’s going to be popular. especially when the barrel gets old and inaccurate and you’ll need to legally purchase a whole nother firearm to replace it.

        by then, there will be home plans to print out a button rifling machine.

  • West

    Oh God, start the count down for the inevitable home made sex object.
    Kids are gonna be strapping bras on their heads while cramming pictures of Kate Upton in the printer.

    • junyo

      [Takes bra off head]

      Yeah! Stupids kids. I’ll be in my bunk.

  • Reverend Clint

    ive been waiting for somebody to make a polymer ar-10 lower… if new frontier made one it would be awesome.

    • Flounder

      A polymer AR-10…. OOOOOHHHHHHHHHHHH Now that would be sexy! I think the only reason someone hasn’t done so already is that the AR-10 receiver has to support a lot more weight and stress than a AR-15 receiver. The lowers I mean. And there is the SCAR and XCR-M (not sure if it’s out yet… I know that there is at least one working model though.). Both of the aforementioned rifles are lighter than an AR-10.

  • RocketScientist

    As for the RP (rapid prototyper, aka 3D printer) machine he is using, it appears to be a RepRap (I’m guessing Version 2 by looking at it). If you’re not familiar, it is a VERY interesting project to design an open source (ie free) rapid prototyper that is capable of making most of its own components. The idea being that eventually, you can order a few hard to make parts (electronics, etc) and have a friend with a RepRap make you the rest of the parts. Then make a hundred more kits for other friends. We built one of the early versions in our lab a few years back, was very fun to dink around with. The whole point of the thing is for individuals to experiment with theirs for new construction materials, now capabilities etc. so it really works great for the Maker/DIY/nerd crowd.

  • http://haveblue.org Have Blue

    A quick note – the AR-10 lower is not mine, but that of oryhara, who is also working on his own AR-15 lower: http://rommie.digitalcrowbar.net/wordpress/

  • noob

    in the thread he mentions his printer is a commercially made but old printer. he also says that a rep rap would probably do a better job than his worn out equipment

    • RocketScientist

      In my comment below, I was referring to the link midway through the post, linking to his ar-10 lower build on a “DIY 3D printer”. I didn’t really make that clear. On that page you can see the reprap in the background

  • bob

    Seriously dude quit regurgitating that “HK hates civilians” internet crap, that’s been put to rest years ago. They actually have outstanding U.S. customer service and they stand by every gun they have sold to U.S. civilians, I have used their CS and its top notch even though I wasn’t the original owner of the gun, they (hk usa) fixed it for free and had it back within 10 days!

    • bob

      @ ben

      • T.G.

        If H&K loves us civilian sales so much why can’t I but a H&K 93 as anything other than an overpriced pre ban collectors item?

      • bob

        T.G. I don’t no why hk won’t reintroduce the hk 94 or other goodies that went away with that stupid Clinton import ban. From what I’ve read hk is focused on the more profitable P30/hk45, hk416/417, G36, MP7A1 product lines and gradually thinning out the rest. They are U.S. manufacturing partially the HK45 and 45C and the MR556 and MR762 in their New Hampshire facility and they are ramping up on production for the hk45c and MR556 due to increasing U.S. civilian demand right now. Make your voice heard, call them/email them about it, if enough people do it, they might manufacture it at their U.S. facility if they perceive enough demand. Although that might be a back burner thing for them as their having difficulties with keeping up with demand but that’s no different with most other makers right now.

      • Mike Knox

        @T.G.
        Blame your gun laws, everywhere else they’re almost as cheap as car components..

    • David/Sharpie

      Semi auto G36? Built on a Class 3 receiver you say…? They hate civvies.

      Its the reason why their Mil/LE contracts are no more than any other gun (Like a Glock) but yet their civvie sales cost about 2-3x what a comparable gun is worth.

      • Mike Knox

        H&K focuses their buisnes on Military and Law enforcement. Civilian services are just a “meh” to them..

  • John Doe

    Hopefully this will make people realize how dumb some gun laws are.

    I’m gonna see my kids print out Glocks and AR-15s in the future.

    • noob

      hey, tangental note- there was the case of Daniel Petric whose parents diciplined by taking away his copy of Halo 3. in a moment of stupidity they locked it away with the family pistol. Daniel got into the safe and recovered Halo… and then took the terrible decision to kill his mother and wound his father with that weapon.

      Daniel Petric will remain in jail for what he has done, and rightly so. the tricky part is- when kids have access to a computer that can print out most of the things they need, the old eddie eagle routine of stop, leave it alone and call an adult may not be enough.

      are kids ready for the awesome responsibility of having ready access to the firearms they print out? what are some good ideas on how to prepare their young minds for a world where sudden death is permanent?

      • jim

        when they can print out barrels and ammo, then there’s a real issue..

      • 6677

        He musta been pretty mentally unstable to do that over a copy of halo. I love the halo games but if someone took mine away and stuffed it in a safe I would leave it be, not shoot them.

        For now at least they’ll probably have issues with certain components, barrel being the first to come to mind (although a very thick chamber might actually work for a single shot…)

      • noob

        Don’t forget the restrictions on ammunition. If you have them where you live. We do here in Canada, and perhaps its a good thing.

  • Mike Knox

    Certainly one thing Eugene Stoner didn’t see coming. He designed the AR-10 and AR15 to be built in a manner of ways (milled, Stamped, or casted) and materials (steel, aluminum, any durable metal, or even wood). But He surely didn’t expect printed stratified composites and plastics..

  • 6677

    So, we had the article on 3d printed mags which although weren’t quite perfect could possibly be revised and now we have a lower. The ease of editing 3d printouts does bring me to think that a modified magazine and lower combo could be made actually…