A field test of a 3-D printed assault rifle ended quickly over the weekend, with the printed plastic parts breaking apart after six rounds. It was the first live test of the printed AR-15 assault rifle, the Wiki Weapons Project's target for the first blueprint of a fully 3-D printed gun. There are still plenty of improvements to make before the team will recommend assembly, as the test shows.
The Wiki Weapons Project aims to create a working blueprint for a 3-D printed gun and distribute the digital design file online for free. The legal implications are cloudy at best (we reviewed some of them here). But whatever you think of the project, it's well on its way to producing a workable firearm.
In this case, only part of the gun was manufactured with a 3-D printer--just the lower receiver, which is the trigger and handgrip. The rest of the rifle was put together with off-the-shelf parts, according to the Wiki Weapons Project's blog. The result was a sleek rifle with a DayGlo midsection.
There you saw Cody Wilson, who heads the project, test-fire one round to see if it worked, and then hand the weapon to another member of his group, who only unloaded five rounds before the gun fell apart. The magazine had 10 rounds.
The team thinks the problem was recoil, which caused the plastic to become unhinged. The threads connecting the receiver to the stock worked just fine--the o-ring just snapped. The group explains further in their blog post.
The WikiWep team writes that they have several improvement ideas in store, but final exams (Wilson is a law-school student) and the holidays might put a damper on their progress. Read more about the recent test over at Danger Room.
Law student or not, I still feel like this is a misguided redneck with too much money and free time. I have no issue with people owning guns, but being able to print out most (if not all, which is where this is trying to go) of an untracable gun is a capability I'm not sure we need.
Why do I feel like he is going to start a firm specializing in gun law for this new market/problem he is creating. Kind of clever I guess.
What kind of fool personally test fires a new gun? Use mechanical means to do your test firing before you blow your fingers off!
If it fires one shot, it's a weapon.
@phoenixamaranth - He's trying to get this year's Darwin Award. I was thinking the same thing you were. You have to be pretty stupid to test fire an unproven weapon without lab testing under controlled conditions. I was hoping it was going to explode in his face. :/ Ah well...
In space, no one can hear a tree fall in the forest.
@People above this
He shot the gun because he BOUGHT the rest of the parts... These parts have been proven in every other weapon and are made of metal. The chance of a misfire that would actually hurt someone is very low, if it did misfire it wouldn't have even set off the cartridge. The parts that they produced are not integral to the trajectory of the bullet.
Why not just print out directions on how to make nuke why stop with simple 3D weapons?
This is stupid Popular Science and I don't agree with your reasoning to flaunt national gun laws making it illegal to make your own weapons without a license, etc.
The Government should intervene here.
What, Chumlee wasn't available?
One of the problems obviously is, that a part that had originally been designed in metal was now made out of a rather weak plastic. If one started from scratch and designed the gun with weak plastic in mind, it might look a lot different.
In due course better materials and designs will be developed.If a process can be developed that for example would incorporate glass, metal or carbon fiber in the plastic, the materials printed could have much better characteristics. From a purely technical point of view the result is encouraging.
@african rover, i think you're more right than anyone here, if i was to design that catch and handle grip for plastics instead of metal it would have more of a bubble like shape and maybe add in some arch patterns to save on material. the over all bubble shape of it would increase the strength of the part, the trusses and arches would allow the same amount of strength but with less material. all in all it's going to be bulkier by far and you'd be lucky if it weighed the same as the normal component, the attractive part of this build though is, as always, that it was built not in a factory but in a house, at home, in a place outside of the government's eye. we need to step away from the government as a means to keep us in line and re-examine the absent social contracts that SHOULD be in place to keep us from Killing each other even when there's no higher authority.
being able to produce you're own means of defense is very important even though it won't help in a home robbery, it won't help in a hold up, it won't even keep your house from being robbed. owning guns isn't an insurance policy against criminals and people who would think they could take your life, it's an insurance policy against our own governments.
As V from V for Vendetta said: "...governments should be afraid of their people."
to mars or bust!
@haywall, while you are correct that the chances are low of him having a catastrophic misfire since he only printed the lower receiver, there was still the possibility of fluke failure. Murphy's law still holds true and, I for one, would not have fired that weapon until it was test fired for safety.
As for those who are upset about this, remember that a standard lower receiver is usually forged or cast aluminum which is pretty easy to do at home. It's up to the individual to decide to obey the already standing laws.
@Gizmowiz, it actually isn't illegal to make your own gun, as long as it isn't rifled and you aren;t selling them out of the trunk of your car the police couldn't literally care less.
however if you read the article you'd understand that the gun IS actually registered, seeing as he BOUGHT the trigger mechanism, the barrel, and the bolt, including the clip/magazine and ammunition. each of these have a serial number which is catalogued and stored in the same bloody databases that normal guns are entered into.
in fact having a law against homemade firearms would be IMPOSSIBLE to enforce because it's impossible to tell when anyone is doing it, and you would need a warrant to search for it in the first place. the 2012 patriot act may mean the government doesn't need to say it's sorry but i doubt they are going to use it on everyone who puts a shotgun shell in a pipe and hits it with a hammer.
to mars or bust!
As for the tech involved, polymer lower receivers are already on the market and work quite well. This is just about being able to reproduce that same setup with a lower temperature plastic. I think it will be quite doable. With a little materials research, they should be able to increase the structural integrity of a printed piece. Shapeways already has come up with several composites for 3d printing and can print in aluminum and a steel/bronze mix.
I think he owes a tax, part of the fish and wildlife restoration fund. Might even need a FFL manufacturers license.
It is perfectly legal to manufacture a firearm according to batf as long as you are legally allowed to own a firearm, no felons, etc...
The only serialized part on a ar-15 is the lower receiver so no, there is no database of homemade weapons. Rifled barrels are also ok as long as the homemade firearm is in the style of a common firearm.
Check eBay for "80% ar lowers". My question is why do you call it an assault rifle? An ar-15 is essentially a ruger 10/22 with a larger cartridge.
So you can only kill 5 persons with it?
Absolutely needs more research/media attention/Founding.
-I dont want to live on this planet anymore
This is all R&D and it being a poor weapon is not an issue. One shot, one kill makes it a weapon and needs regulation.
I am glad you did not die as per you previous post. I look forward for you having good days and seeing your comments on PoPSCi sir. ;)
First, Popsci needs to hire someone who has actually used a firearm to write these articles for them.
(1) The only part of a gun that IS the firearm is the reciever. In split reciever guns, it is the lower reciever. That is why the printed part is the lower reciever (they also printed a pistol grip - but that was just extra printing).
(2) Every part other than the lower reciever can be purchased online by anyone (even felons) completely within the rule of law (Commiefornia and New Yorkistan do have a 10 round magazine cap, since they have laws against standard capacity magazines, requiring undercapacity mags in those states).
(3) Lower recievers are usually milled out from aircraft grade aluminium blocks and can be made on the same machines and materials as custom hubcaps are (rims). This is completely legal, so long as you never sell or give the reciever away. If you do wish to sell it, all you have to do is give it a unique number and record who you sell it to. You can also purchase a lower that is ALMOST finished, and with a press drill and pattern complete it to have your own, unregistered, unnummbered, and TOTALLY LEGAL firearm.
(4) The reason the lower reciever can be plastic is because the propellent burned (improperly called explosion by many instead of expansion) is in the upper reciever / barrel / bolt. This means the lower reciever does not experience much heat - only force from the recoil and movement of the bolt. A true composite lower would likely have held up (many handguns have composite lowers).
(5) This is NOT an "assault rifle." AR stands for Armalite, the company who originally designed the Armalite Platform #15 (AR15). It is a semi-automatic firearm. To be an assault rifle, it would need to be select fire (capable of fully automatic or multi-shot burst fire). If you see the words "assault weapon," then you are seeing a fictional combination of words that refers to nothing. It would be like calling a stroller an assault stroller because you could use it to fling a baby at someone.
(6) Even if capable of full auto, this firearm would still be legal to make if you purchased a tax stamp from BATF and registered it. Unfortunately, BATF won't sell you the stamp, making it functionally illegal (much like owning a car would be if you owed property tax on it but the county refused to take your tax money making it impossible to pay the owed tax and thus illegal). BATF does regularly sell these stamps, but only to government agencies and politicians. So, if you want to have a full auto you can pay a ton for an old one that was grandfathered in, you can become a senetor and ask for a stamp to be granted so you can buy a new one "for your bodyguard" or some other BS, or you can break the law.
(7) For the $30,000 of a good printer I could purchase over 30 good AR15s, a dozen 30round mags each, and the ammo to fill them all at any Walmart, or I could purchase a milling machine and make all the lower recievers I could ever desire. 3K and a ffl license later and you can sell them (most stripped lowers go for $150-200 these days).
(8) Anyone looking to commit crimes with a gun can purchase one illegally easily enough - it isn't like the criminal world is hard up for firearms. It is in the law abiding community that gun laws are obeyed and shortages occur.
(9) Considering that the SCOTUS just ruled that the government can compell you to buy anything, so long as all they do is tax you if you don't (actually, so long as they tax everyone and then exempt those from the tax who purchase what they want), what the government should do is compel every citizen to purchase, own, and maintain a shotgun, a handgun, a high powered rifle with optics, a .22LR firearm, and a semiautomatic modern sporting rifle (AR, AK, FAL, etc) with sufficient ammo for each.
When every person is in possession of a full assortment of firearms, when the use of those arms is standard ciriculum in the public schools, and once the select handful of genetic misfits and antisocials have Darwined themselves out of the world - then we will have a peaceful, polite, and free society.
You cannot print the bullets. I might also add that ending your comment with the same quote every single time makes you look more than a little bit like a self-worshiper.
D13 - would you comment so snidely on what I said if you were in the same room with me? How about if you were in the same room as me and I had on a sidearm?
An armed society is a polite society.
It would not stop all crime, but it would certainly decrease it, because in an armed society the cost of entering crime is so much higher. Your average street thug is a coward at heart, because he is motivated only by selfishness. When everyone is armed, theft does not provide "easy money" and so only those who are willing to work for their crimes continue to commit them.
So, Picaso thefts would stay the same while muggings, rapes, and assaults would decrease.
Compare the murder rates of cities to see which ones have the highest rates - they are usually the most disarmed. Chicago? Have their gun restrictions made the streets safe?
Gun control only works if you can get ALL the guns (which means it will never work in the US). If you have guns, criminals will get them (illegal purchase, theft, etc). Therefore, in the US, the only logical solution to gun violence is to put guns in the hands of as many non-criminals as you can.
# of mass shootings at gun shows, shooting competitions, or NRA meetings? 0
# of mass shootings at schools, government buildings, or theaters where carrying guns is not permitted? many
Under federal regulation, you can and are allowed to make a homemade gun. you have to follow the regulations set for pistols, shotguns, and rifles. If you are wanting to build an NFA item, you can request permisson from ATF to do such. Once it is built, you will have to go through the tax process like any other weapon.
However, to note, once you have built a homemade firearm, you can not transfer and/or sell it. That would be a violation of tax code and you will be subject to criminal prosecution.
making it illegal to build your own guns is totally impractical and virtually unenforceable. you'd never know someone had an improvised weapon unless you either illegally searched them, or found it on them while investigating a different crime. and since US law treats the lower of the gun as the registered "firearm" regardless of the upper used with it, this is all entirely legal.
They never make things like they used to....
Pretty soon, everything is going to be micro printed. Everything from firearms to food.
they say they want to get rid of guns but there making machines that create the guns.
this does not make sense