With the increasing popularity of 3D printed firearms, its no surprise someone has managed to finally print a working AR-15 upper. While 3D printed lowers are a somewhat common sight these days, uppers pose their own set of risks and engineering hurdles.
YouTube user In Carbonite is a member of Deterrence Dispensed, an online community of 3D firearm printers. The group is focused on using their designs and ideas to further firearm ownership. In the past, In Carbonite has tested other designs including a TEC-9 receiver. Currently, In Carbonite is in the midst of several projects involving 3D printed firearms.
While the AR-15 lower receiver is frequently printed, the upper has long been a dream of firearms printers. In Carbonite very well may have produced the first working AR-15 .22 caliber upper receiver.
Printing his upper from PETG plastic, the test gun in pistol configuration can be seen in the video below.
The first version of the upper failed, but in a safe manner as In Carbonite explains below.
When I first printed it I had no idea if it would work, so I was glad to find out that it did. The first one broke after several trips to the range at a total of about 450 rounds. The point of failure was the holes for the takedown pins.
Refining the 3D Printing Process
Undeterred by the minor setback, with a few thoughtful tweaks, he cranked out the next version of the upper.
I printed this on an anycubic i3 mega 3D printer which cost about $300 I used PETG filament for the upper, but I believe PLA would work just as well.
I decided to change the orientation I print the upper on the printer to strengthen that area, so I printed it vertical. That fixed the problem, and I have since printed another for use in a rifle platform (still .22lr)
To date, In Carbonite tells me that he has about 1,000 rounds through both of his current uppers. If his build is any indication, the 3D firearm community is well on its way to bigger and better things. When asked about total lifetime he had this to say:
It’s hard to say what the lifespan of them might be without further testing.
In any case, 1,000 rounds is an impressive count given that this is a 3D printed firearm. Be sure to keep an eye on the 3D printing community for more impressive developments.