Solid Concepts manufactures world’s first 3D printed metal gun
November 12, 2013
Solid Concepts, a global supplier of Additive Manufacturing/3D Printing services, has manufactured the world’s first 3D Printed Metal Gun using a laser sintering process and metal powder. The gun, a 1911 classic design, is composed of 17-4 Stainless Steel and Inconel 625 components, and decked with a Selective Laser Sintered (SLS) carbon-fibre filled nylon hand grip.
The metal laser sintering process Solid Concepts used to manufacture the gun’s 33 components is one of the most accurate additive manufacturing processes available, states the company. The process is more than accurate enough to build the interchangeable and interfacing parts within the gun and proves the tight tolerances that laser sintering offers.
“We’re proving this is possible, the technology is at a place now where we can manufacture a gun with 3D metal printing,” stated Kent Firestone, Vice President of Additive Manufacturing at Solid Concepts. “The whole concept of using a laser sintering process to 3D Print a metal gun revolves around proving the reliability, accuracy and usability of metal 3D Printing as functional prototypes and end use products. It’s a common misconception that 3D Printing isn’t accurate or strong enough, and we’re working to change people’s perspective.”
Solid Concepts chose to build the 1911 because the design is public domain. The gun is rifled, with the rifling built directly into the part during the 3D printing process. The gun has not been machined states the company. “We used hand tools for some post processing, but we did not machine this gun. It’s born this way.”
The 3D printed metal has less porosity issues than an investment cast part and better complexities than a machined part. The gun barrel sees chamber pressures above 20,000 psi every time it is fired. “And we’re doing this legally. In fact, as far as we know, we’re the only 3D Printing Service Provider with a Federal Firearms License (FFL). Now, if a qualifying customer needs a unique gun part in five days, we can deliver.”
Solid Concepts provides rapid prototyping and custom manufacturing services, with capabilities in PolyJet, Stereolithography (SLA), 3D Color Prints, Selective Laser Sintering (SLS), 3D Metal Printing, Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM), CNC models and patterns, Composites, and QuantumCast™ advanced cast urethanes.