3d Printed Assault Rifle Parts

They’re not ready for real world use yet, but hobbyists have test fired an AR-15 Assault Rifle with a 3d printed lower receiver.  The lower receiver consists of the trigger and grip of the gun.  The 3d printed piece broke after firing six bullets.

3d printing metal is still expensive for hobbyists, so they’re using plastic pieces.  But by doing this test, they’ve shown that their model works and fits correctly.  Now they could reprint it in metal, which would have a much longer time to failure.  By using a stock Rifle and swapping out single pieces for 3d printed versions, they could demonstrate they have all the models needed to 3d print an entire gun.  Slowly they could move towards 100% 3d printed.

As you can see from this exploded view of an AR-15, there are many pieces in an Assault Rifle, so it’s unlikely we’ll see a 100% printed gun soon.  And many of those pieces are complex machined parts, including pistons and precisely tensioned springs.  However, it’s not illegal to buy many pieces individually without a gun license, so it might be possible soon to buy the harder to manufacture pieces, and 3d print the remaining.

It may also be possible in the next few years to 3d print a gun part called a “drop in auto” (DIA), which would convert semi-automatic firearms to burst fire or fully automatic weapons.  Again, this is a highly complex piece, that requires expert engineering skills.  Using a DIA is illegal according to the US ATF and punishable by a 5-10 year prison sentence.  But it’s only a matter of time before someone creates the model and uploads it to the internet.  Then anyone with access to a metal 3d printer, or with the skills to print and pour casts could make their own.

A more realistic concern is the 3d printing of “burner” weapons.  We’ll discuss these in a later post.

Related posts:

The Future of Military Logistics is 3d Printing
What Are 3d Printers Bad At?
Finishing 3d prints with silver: Francis Bitonti

December 4, 2012
Categories: 3d Printed Firearms, Metal 3D Printing

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