The state of 3D printed guns continues to improve. Hognose of WeaponsMan.com covers some of the recent developments:
As we have expected to happen for some time, and as the initial Cody Wilson “Liberator” first demonstrated, 3D-printed firearms made of common addititive-manufacturing plastics like ABS or PLA inevitably had to diverge from common steel firearms practice to take advantage of those plastics’ strength — and overcome their weaknesses.
That means that, while early prints were nothing but, for example, a plastic version of an AR lower dimensionally identical to its aluminum forbear, but destined for a short life (especially in PLA), more and more designs are innovating in different directions.
This series of videos shows the Shuty, a 9mm pistol based on kitbashing the designs of British homemade gun pioneer P.A. Luty and the AR-15 together. It uses several metal parts, including the barrel (which comes from a Glock 17), the fire-control group (AR), and the bolt (home-made). On the other hand, the magazine, upper and lower receivers, and bolt carrier, are all printed from a polymer generally thought unsuitable for firearms parts. Turns out, you can design around materials deficiencies (as the Japanese did when they used chrome bores for strength, to offset the suboptimal alloys they had for rifle barrels, decades before other nations adopted them for durability, and when their aeronautical engineers designed assemblies built-up of 7075-equivalent alloy sheet where every other skyfaring nation would use a 7075 forging).
Here is Derwood’s working Shuty, redesigned from the original, as of 1 May 15:
After several failed attempts with the Shuty, I decided to beef it up to handle the stress. The combination plastic/steel bolt works very good. After several test fires, the frame and lower is holding up well and no damage has occurred.
I highly recommend my readers click through and read the whole thing.
Now that 3D printed firearms designers are working around the limitations of the materials and the medium, we are seeing actual viable weapons coming out of printers and on to the range. This is an extension and an enhancement of the American amateur gunmaking culture that has made the US a world leader a leader in small arms technology – Browning, Garand, Williams, Johnson, and Maxim all began their work in the same way that the gun-printing community has began: by making things at home.
The next great firearms design may well have its first proof-of-concept made overnight, on a 3D printer.