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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  • dast

    Printed brass would be neat

    • D

      Could probably sinter it, but i doubt you could effectively extrude it (the stuff melts at 1700 degrees F!). Could easily cnc it though.

      • Mouse

        Actually, they have 3d printers that print metal.

      • 6677

        3d printing metal IS sintering….

        Its well out of the realm of hobbiests aswell.

    • Komrad

      For firearms with fully supported chambers (think single shot break actions), you could make it out of whatever because there wouldn’t be really any place for it to blow out.

    • noob

      brass is usually stamped from a disk using a series of dies to make it into the final shape.

      you could print the shape of the dies and then cast them using a lost wax technique in a hard metal.

      after that, load them into a press and off you go.

    • C3P0

      cartridge case brass is deep drawn, which work-hardens it. it is then tempered/heat treated to gives it different strength and stretch properties in different directions and different sections. Brass cases are extremely handy because the thin case mouth expands, which holds the bullet in and (typically/mostly) sealing the chamber at the mouth of the case/ front of the chamber.

      Sintered brass would have a very different microscopic/crystalline structure and would have to be made much thicker than traditional brass cases, this would require a completely different chamber design(s) to ensure proper support to prevent case / chamber blowouts. Additionally, the different rapid prototyping machines would require different specs to ensure the proper finished case material properties since heating and cooling get really important.

  • wright

    while the idea is noble, this is a disaster waiting to happen. using the word weapon, over and over is just asking for a knee jerk political reaction. but hey, I’ve been wrong before.

  • Gidge

    My fear is the kind of draconian laws that will get passed to try and stop this, and any other projects.

    If this even gets close to working and gets some media attention legislators are going to shit bricks and there will be a public outcry demanding they do something about it. Anyone writing legislation to control concepts and technologies they don’t fully understand (know any senators with engineering or computer science degrees) never ends well.

  • Chase

    This is a fantastic idea! 🙂

  • charliedontsurf

    Anyone with some basic tools can make a weapon. With a proper machine shop a submachinegun is pretty easy to make.

    3D printing is just a fancy way of doing stuff that is not a big deal to do without them.

    • Mouse

      This is a drastically fatal simplification of the subject at hand. Simply having a machine shop is not enough to make a firearm. Extremely advanced knowledge and understanding of physics, and fluid dynamics, and mechanical engineering is required to make a quality firearm. What they are planning on doing, is making a file that has all the math worked out for whoever wants to print a firearm without anyone else knowing.

      • Oswald Bastable

        Still, it’s not hard to make a Sten Gun. Quality it ain’t but they sure kill stuff…

      • D

        Not every gun needs to be (or even should be) an ultra-high-quality heirloom-grade piece of engineering mastery. Something that goes off when you hit the trigger, and puts a bullet in a 4-inch circle at 20 feet is more then sufficient for alot of self-defense uses; everything else is gravy.

        You can make firearms without anything more advanced then a drill, some scrap pipe, and a nail if you’re desperate enough and have access to some manner of bullets.

        Also, i’d point to the pakistani gun makers, who make guns by hand. Do you think they all have advanced engineering degrees and a PHD in physics?

      • Komrad

        So are you saying that you need expert knowledge to make a tube thick enough to contain a 12ga or .22 or whatever? You can make a 12ga shotgun with 2 pipes, a nail, some endcaps, and some time.

      • Kurt

        Tell that to all those guys in Afghanistan making automatic weapons in their little dirt-floored shops. Do you actually think before you start typing?

  • Mouse

    This is a very bad idea. Like he says in the video: this is not a new idea; it just hasn’t been implemented before. Maybe I should say: it hasn’t been implemented yet… It hasn’t been implemented yet for a reason. The purpose of having firearms, is that it gives us a leg up on those that would harm us. Criminals cannot legally obtain firearms, which makes it more difficult for them to be armed. What this project would do, is take away this advantage from those who defend themselves with legally purchased firearms. This would make it safer, and easier to commit gun based crimes, which would also reflect poorly on modern gun culture. With no paper trail for the police to follow, when a printed at home gun surfaces for the first time, it will be exactly like all the others, and impossible to trace if no fingerprints are present.

    • klyph

      This does absolutely nothing to enhance a criminal’s ability to illegally acquire a firearm. You cannot prevent behavior with legislation.

      • Mouse

        So you think drug dealers that make millions won’t be able to afford the equipment? You think they won’t mass produce firearms with this technology? How is this a good idea. Explain to me what benefit this will have to society.

      • Komrad

        @Mouse
        Sure they could, or for the cost of a lower end Rep-Rap 3d printer, they could have Glock or several guns for the price of higher end printers, all acquired illegally.

    • KBCraig

      Here’s an experiment for you: send a drug dealer with multiple felony convictions out to acquire a gun. Then, send Jane Q. Public out to buy a gun. See which comes back first with a gun.

      I started to make Jane a resident of MD, MA, NY, IL, or CA, but then I decided that would just be needless piling on.

    • D

      Any criminal who actually wants a firearm, can get a fire arm. It’s pure nonsense to suggest that criminals can’t get a gun because it’s somehow, magically, “not legal”. Aside from stolen guns (“lol, we broke into this guy’s house and lookie what we found in the nightstand…”) there’s guns bought from private sellers, guns bought by a straw buyer (usually their girlfriend, or a friend without a record), guns bought with a false ID, guns bought under the table, and, of course, guns borrowed from friends and associates, or guns that family members have owned for years. Not to mention, of course, if someone doesn’t HAVE a criminal record, they can just walk into the store and buy a gun like anyone.

      If anything, my problem with this project is that it uses the woefully under-powered .22 cartridge, and that it requires cartridges at all. Cartridges are something that could be banned, tracked, or labeled, after all. And a self-defense weapon needs to be something better then a .22, for a margin of error with aiming and such.

    • bbmg

      Millions will buy you stolen/smuggled military weaponry, no one is going to use a plastic 0.22 pistol when they can have a full auto AR/AK.

      • Phil White

        Mexico is a prime example of the ease in which cartels or other groups can obtain firearms with little effort.

        Former cartel members have said most of the cartel weapons are obtained by purchasing them from corrupt officials as well as buying them from El Salvador and other central and south American countries.

      • Phil White

        Mexico is a prime example of the ease in which cartels or other groups can obtain firearms with little effort.

        Former cartel members have said most of the cartel weapons are obtained by purchasing them from corrupt Mexican military officials as well as buying them from El Salvador and other central and south American countries.

    • Torguemada

      Why would they, when they allready have access to all the guns they could ever need and those guns are hell a lot better then .22 pistols.

  • Very very interesting project, If you look at the possibilities of 3D cad files that are already downloadable and printable on a 3D printer, you would be able to have a fully working AR15 within 72 hours.

    Also .22 cal files are already out there.
    I have worked very closely with Sabic (General Electric) creating high impact materials and I would suggest using a material called PC/GF, basicly Polycarbonate or ABS reinforced with glassfiber.

    I’d like to work together on this project, our company has been trading in arms for over 510 years.

    Looking forward to hear from you,

    Kind Regards,

    Quintus

  • Ivan

    “Information should be free”
    I have serious doubts about this…

    • Komrad

      Cryptography (of all things) has already ensured information will always be free. The Tor network and supporting programs, True-Crypt, and other such programs ensure that information can be distributed discretely and efficiently out of the watchful eye of the authorities.

      • Ivan

        Well, maybe I put it wrong. The “free” information should be free. I do not see any sense in posting the recipe for a hydrogen bomb or break-in home alarm systems. If I wrote a song to share it with everyone – it’s ok. If I recorded the song in order to make money, I don’t want find it on a torrents. Criminal agents always one step forward than law-abiding people, absolutley free info makes their(bad guys) life easier. I dont see any sence in printed weapon if the laws of the country(state) do not allow it. If you got hands and some brains, you dont need 3d-printer to make a gun. “Absolutley free info” – utopia for ideal populace without bad guys.
        IMHO of course.

  • bbmg

    I think this is technically achievable, if you pile on enough plastic (or even allow for some metal inserts) a functional rimfire pistol made mostly from ABSplus is an achievable goal, even if it will be a smoothbore weapon only useful at close range (deer gun/fp-45 liberator anyone?)

    The problem is that a gun without ammunition is useless. The premise of the project seems to be that ammunition is easily accessible but guns aren’t.

    The Caselman *Air* Machinegun on the other hand…

    http://www.airmachinegun.com/caselman_build.htm

    • Bryan S.

      Or: http://air-ordnance.com/

      I think the overall idea of this project is that gun control cannot, and will not work. Take away ammo, and you still have basic chemistry to make gunpowder and other propellants.

      • bbmg

        Those belt fed things are pretty neat, yet power levels are still in the average adult airgun range. What the Caselman promises is muzzle energy roughly equivalent to a 32 ACP pistol, making it a realistic combat weapon.

        Worth mentioning this pneumatic gun built under Nazi occupation: http://www.spudfiles.com/forums/a-full-bore-pcp-air-rifle-t21714.html

  • TW

    coolish idea but i wouldn’t want a all ABS gun

    • D

      Probably good enough tolerance to build a musket or other blackpowder smoothbore though…

  • Fred

    There are 3D printers who print objects made of steel, aluminium, titanium, etc. This is very cool of course and i hope this blog keeps track of such projects but the technology in this 3D printers is already more than capable of producing guns, there has to be final machining thou, most printers tolerance is around 0.3mm not enough for a gun.

    Check out this websites:
    http://www.arcam.com/
    http://www.renishaw.com/en/additive-manufacturing–15239

    (there is more if you search)

    • Stanislao

      Direct metal laser sintering is capable of working most metals used in firearms. While such machines are commercially available, they are extremely expensive for the time being. Do to the use of rare earth metals in the, and this is the technical term, big nasty lasers required, I expect such devices to remain expensive. That said, integrating a DMLS head onto a cheap printer, then packing it into an argon tank, should be relatively easy.

  • JBGleason

    I think everyone is missing the point. My take is that the guy in the video is thinking way, way beyond firearms here. They just chose a firearm to produce because it is the single physical item that is guaranteed to produce debate amongst others. This is about the internet, freedom of thought and those thoughts extrapolation into physical objects outside the control of governments or private organizations. Whether you realize it or not, this guy and his friends are the future, it’s a brave new world.

  • Mr Myzptlk

    I am in two minds about this.

    Firstly, the enginneer part of me is intrigued by this and am curious to see what the prototype looks like and how they overcome some of the inevitable problems with trying to make a pistol entirely out of ABS. A single shot pistol would be relatively easy but anything above that would be more challenging. I think an ideal design would be going back to the old pepperbox type of pistols. Multiple barrels would not be a weight concern as it is made of plastic, and if this ends up being a one use weapon that destroys the barrel after one or two shots, this would not be so much of an issue for a multi barrel design. Also making it a revolver or pepperbox simplifies the amount and type of springs that would be needed and you do not need to worry about extraction.

    However, as a British police officer I can’t help but be slightly concerned about this project. Granted in America this kind of pistol will not necessarily be used by a criminal element due to the availability of better weapons, however this is not the case all over the world in countries such as Britain where firearms are more controlled. Here it is relatively easy to get .22LR ammo as it is the most common type used by sporting shooters, and if all that is required to end up with an easily concealable handgun is for someone to have access to a 3D printer and an internet connection this could totally change the status quo and lead to an increase in shootings.

    • Gosu

      Honestly, Myzptlk the problem with UK nanny-state is the brilliant policy (/sarc) thinking they can regulate and control all guns in the first place. That’s part of the reason I have no desire to move back there – that and Costco. Man, I love shopping at Costco.

      • Mr Mxyzptlk

        We have Costco in the UK. As for the relevant part, I’m not going to get into a debate on the politics of gun ownership in the UK (which really isn’t as bad as people on the internet seem to think, if you legitimately want a gun for sporting or hunting purposes you can get one, it just requires police lack of a violent criminal record and police approval which I don’t think is necessarily a bad thing). Relative to the US, there is very little gun crime in the UK involving handguns because they are largely not unavailable (there are some that can be legally owned but not many) and this goes for other countries as well, but if this project was a success there would potentially be a way for criminals to manufacture handguns. The people designing this need to bear in mind that this will not just be available in the US where pistol are “legal” but all over the world, and will be able to be made by anyone who pays out $500 for a RepRap and downloads the plans, with no crime being committed until the gun is finished being fabricated, and no way to trace the finished article.

  • dave

    When you can make a sub-machine gun from materials available at the local hardware store and simple tools, with plans very readily available everywhere on the Internet, is using a $3000 3D printer to make a single-use .22LR pistol really worth it? This is a nice idea and all, but the whole “open-source weapon” or whatever already exists.

    • Komrad

      I seem to remember reading somewhere that you could build a Rep-Rap for under $500, but I’m not sure how nice of a Rep-Rap you’d end up with.

    • Mr Mxyzptlk

      Yes you can make an SMG in a machine shop, but only if you already know how to make an SMG. Using a 3D printer would require no expertise whatsoever and could be done by someone in any location. Also, according to the RepRap site it costs $520 and the raw materials are something like $10/lb.

      • dave

        You can make the SMG in your garage with nothing more advanced than a dremel. Some more advanced versions require a lathe, but a lot of bare-bones simple firearms, such as the Four Winds shotgun, can be made with very few tools or even no tools at all.

  • gunslinger

    printable guns… oh the debate continues. somehow i doubt a single shot/use .22 is “worth” it to criminals. and to “mass produce” something like that, would require either a ton of time or money. and in that case, why woudln’t criminals go and get stolen/illegal 9mm, 45s etc?

    • Kerry

      The concern isn’t the .22 pistol. It is the future where you can print a .45 in four hours, use it in a crime, and dispose of the weapon (it has little value; it really only cost you the materials to make it). Later, rinse and repeat.

      So, no, the homemade gun isn’t an issue today. As all the comments here have pointed out, its a hobby — better guns are more easily acquired by other means. Ten years from now, however, the situation may be more complicated.

      Not that I am advocating some sort of preventative legal action. I love my guns, and I think it’d be a blast to download them off the internet. But we, those of us who cherish our freedoms, have to move beyond simple dismissals like “Oh I can do that with a matchbox and a wad of gum” to think about the day when an HP Inkjet can print out a 1911.

      • D

        The only people who fear the free and easy access to firearms are dictators, and those who believe in dictators. There are a thousand things in every day life that have more harm potential then a firearm of any type, yet people rush to panic when guns are involved and talk about how serious the problem is that people might get them.

        That is because guns are a symbol, a sign of personal freedom and capability, and that’s something people are afraid of others having.

        So far as disruptive technology goes, printing a gun on a 3d printer is the very tip of the ice berg. Drones, solid state chemical labs, 3d printed everything you can imagine and lots you can’t… It’s a brave new world.

      • Kerry

        I don’t disagree. However, when we go to argue this point to the general population, we need to be more articulate than “I can build that with a pipe and a hacksaw” and need to be more convincing than “downloading a gun off the internet is no more dangerous than a can of hairspray”.

        You don’t need to convince me. We don’t need to convince each other. We need to convince 51% of the general population. And to that general population, the idea of a Xeroxed AK is disconcerting.

  • JL Coburn

    Another thought I had that it seems no one else has considered is using the 3D Printed components like the AR15 Lower as the basis for a mold that molten aluminum could be poured into. I say aluminum because it is insanely easy to cast and work with aluminum out of the back yard. You can even anodize it with a few unneeded pots and some battery acid.

    • D

      That’s actually a relatively common hobbyist use for 3d printed material: you 3d print in some low-melting point plastic, then do a metal casting off of that.

    • C3P0

      all aluminum is not created equal and should be tempered appropriately. If attempting this, one would be wise to ensure/test the correct composition and temper of the finished part before full load testing. Aluminum is far more forgiving that steel in this regard (see the Titanic for an example), but that may cause it to work for a while and introduce metal fatique and creep when one least expects it.

      • Cymond

        Yes, if we’re talking about general gun parts. However, any type and grade of aluminum would probably be sufficient for an AR lower, at least for a while. One guy already fired a fully-plastic printed AR lower. Almost anything would be a step up from that. Of course, the easier it is to produce, the easier it is to replace when it breaks.

  • Mike Snow

    give me 1k and I’ll publish a some models on thingverse that does this, seriously. A gun is easy very easy to make if that is your only goal.

    • Mike Knox

      And for some people they can just cobble one up out of boredom..

  • El Duderino

    For fiction lovers, read The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson. In the book he lays out a very interesting future where almost anything can be built in the comfort of your own home, as long as you can afford the materials and someone will sell it to you. Waaaay beyond printing a .22LR or AR out of plastic.

  • Mr Mxyzptlk

    You need to cut out the shit you are spouting here and on youtube about the “British Gestapo” as you so colourfully put it persecuting Luty to death. He died of Esophageal cancer (basically incurable), which I’m pretty sure cannot be caught from “persecution”. Also, the reason he was locked up was because his house was full of home-made submachine guns and other weapons. Finally, the vast majority of people who were questioned about their association with Lutty or because they downloaded his book were talked to by the police for all of 10 minutes, the fact that you appeared to have such a problem with them implied you were doing something to raise flags or behaved like an arsehole.

    As I clearly stated I have no problem with developing this technology, I just think it is irresponsible to make it open source and aim for it to be so easy to produce. And if it is purely about distributing a file and testing the idea of an open source design, why did they need to make it a deadly weapon?

    • Jake Barnes

      Mr Mxyzptlk,

      You seem to neglect the idea of personal responsibility. You start by assuming that everyone is a criminal who just hasn’t been caught yet. This seems to be the issue with Police Services within the United Kingdom. (Note; I used the word service not force, as police are simply public servants.) I live in New Zealand, where fortunately we have been spared thus far from politicians who neglect the idea of personal responsibility. Unfortunately, as of late the attitude of the New Zealand police is becoming one of “guilty until proven innocent.”

      The restrictions placed on United Kingdom handgun owners were a knee jerk reaction to the Dunblane massacre. It was revealed retrospectively that the restrictions in place were adequate; however lack of action on the part of UK police was to blame for the massacre.

      Remember, you live in a world full of people who are most likely just as responsible and intelligent as yourself. Sure, there will be exceptions to the rule. But exceptions are no case for restricting the majority.

    • John Luty

      Philip Luty did not have a house full of homemade guns, I should know because I went there often seeing as he was my brother. He made one machine gun, for which he got a four year prison term. Subsequently he drew up plans for other items which he put on his website. From what he told me, he was accosted one day by the police who said that although that wasn’t illegal, they had their eye on him. A while later he was arrested at gunpoint as they had now decided it was illegal! This was around the time he was diagnosed with cancer I think. It was quite easy for them to ascertain that he probably would not survive very long with the aggresive type of disease he had but they would not drop the proceedings and as Edgar says, basically persecuted a dying man to death. In fairness, Philip would probably have lived a lot longer had he accepted sooner the treatments offered. He only agreed to an operation after the cancer had metastasised.

  • Dira

    Did the page on indiegogo go down? I want to donate?

  • crkt dylan

    to the nay sayers thinking this will help criminals, what if tomorrow you had to mug someone knowing this technology existed and the victim was packing a .22 or .380 belly gun? what if tomorrow you didnt need the police to know that no one is going to break into the house nextdoor? what if tomorrow personal accountability wasnt your governments job?

    as for the gun owner in me, i see new ways to produce ”consumable” accessories like mags, foregrips, etc. i also see cheaper ways for limited production runs with the advancement of this technology but its still to flawed for now. dont believe me? try printing threading on even the best 3d printer.

    as for the actaul idea at hand, i love it. since i left high-school ive been floating from one machine shop to the next. i cant begin to explain the feeling i have knowing i can make anything i need including firearms parts. it just feels nice not having to always suck on the teat that is manufacturing and goods.

  • Axel

    This is like directly out of the Psyche Warfare office, a project to make ppl accept clampdowns on Internet freedom. You see only pll in the USA are pro gun-rights, the rest of “civilization” will cry i fear when they learn their neighbour can make a gun this easily. Of course any sane person understands this is BS, u cant make a gun from Nylon.

  • 2speed

    Great, who needs Fast-n-Furious when you can just email the blueprints to your favorite drug cartel and they can print their own arsenal! If this catches on like the open software movement did, it’s a whole new ball-game folks!

    Truth be told, sharing and contributing innovative ideas that would otherwise get stamped out through ridiculous and unnecessary patent law (i.e. Mega Arms vs LMT) is what it’s all about folks. True liberation from the shackles of corporate greed and government over-reach.