It started with a crowdfunding project last August. Now, nine months later, the world's first 3-D printed gun is here. Announced via Forbes exclusive on Friday, the design, called the Liberator, is now available for download.
Here are what the parts look like:
Before making a complete 3-D printed gun, Defense Distributed tested a printed part of an assault rifle. In December, the test version fired 6 shots (out of a magazine of 10) before breaking. Defense Distributed have been refining their technology since, adapting to the needs of the material--by curving the plastic wherever possible to strengthen it against stress that broke square parts and thickening the plastic so that it better absorbs force. A later design, demonstrated in February, fired 600 rounds just fine. With a firearms manufacturing license in March, Defense Distributed was legally in the clear to make a 3-D printed gun they could sell.
In this latest demo, there are 16 3-D printed plastic components. A sharp eye will notice one metal component (besides the bullet): a cheap nail. This is the firing pin, which accelerates into the back of the round, setting of the explosion that propels the bullet forward. Defense Distributed tried to make a hardened plastic firing pin, but they were unable to do so with the commercial printer that they used to make the rest of the Liberator, and so rather than use an industrial printer they went with a cheap, everyday component.
The bullet is a .380 caliber, a size in use for ever a century and common in handguns. Why the .380? "It was the first one that worked," Defense Distributed's Cody Wilson told Popular Science. There are plans for 9mm and .22 caliber barrels as well.
The two coiled spirals and the weird, accordion-looking piece are all actually springs, made entirely of printed plastic. The spirals cock the accordion into position. The accordion is the trigger spring, that when released pushes the firing pin forward with enough force to set off the round.
Not visible in the picture is a nonfunctional 6-ounce piece of metal that goes in the handle and makes the gun visible to metal detectors, designed to meet the standards of the Undetectable Firearms Act. Wilson said he was interested in the printable quality of the gun, not the undetectable aspects of it, and while carefully noting hisType 7 License for firearms manufacture doesn't require it, he made it detectable as a gesture of good will. Because this is optional, other people who choose to download the plans and print their own Liberators may not follow suit. (Fiction, at least, has already seen the dangerous potential of undetected guns).
Is this the future of 3D printing? Wilson told the BBC:
"There are states all over the world outside of the United States say we're a gun control state, you can't own a firearm. That's not true anymore. I'm seeing a world where technology says you'll be pretty much be able to have whatever you want."
You can watch the Liberator in action here:
WOW! Truly amazing work.
They did what all the wannabe experts said they couldn't!
The babies will now cry about the nail that is used as a firing pin. LoL
The real question is, now that people can download and print their own, can Defense Distributed survive the lawsuits coming their way?
I can only assume Defense Distributed built their guns on high end, well-tuned machines; whereas the people who will most likely print these will not. When someone gets a severe injury and thus sues for damages…
Scary enough you just handed someone an undetectable weapon, but the fact that they didn’t take the ‘idiot factor’ into account is even scarier.
The internet has never been able to kill your unattended child until today. I can't see why this is cause for celebration. I'm not for gun control but I'm not an idiot. If you wanted to make a downloadable gun at least have the brains to figure out a way to only make it available to registered adults. I mean at least try. How many parents do you think are aware that the 3d printer their kid wants for his birthday can be used to print a working gun? probably not a lot. Which means you can't blame that first kids death on bad parenting. It's on you for creating a deadly technology with absolutely no thought on to how to use it for the better of humanity. Furthermore, you shot ONE bullet. One! That's hardly proof that your gun is in working order. So now you can factor in the injuries that come from some kid's 3d printed gun blowing up in his face because he printed it on a rep rap. You might go down in history as the most irresponsible person ever.
The description of how this gun works is not quite correct.
The gun has three main components: the trigger group, the hammer assembly, and the barrel, all housed within the gun body.
The trigger group consists of the accordion-like spring and the trigger. The trigger spring provides a small amount of tension to keep the trigger forward, and provides the resistance for the trigger pull. The key things to note on the trigger are the small tab in the middle, which slots into the small hole for the trigger spring, and the hook at the end, which captures the hammer when it is cocked. It's a straight trigger pull.
The hammer assembly consists of the two spiral springs, one on each side of the hammer (the small wrench-like piece), and all three pieces are placed inside the hammer housing. The small rod at the end of one of the two springs connects to the hole in the other, forming a bar that pushes the hammer forward. Also noticeable is the small plastic nub on the side of the hammer that accepts the firing pin. The entire hammer assembly is attached to main body by three pins.
After assembly, the weapon is loaded by placing a .380 ACP round into the barrel, the barrel is placed into the gun body, and the hammer is cocked by pulling backwards until the hook in the trigger captures the hammer, slotting between the two prongs of the hammer. The accordion-like trigger spring keeps the trigger forward, keeping the hammer cocked. Pressing the trigger squeezes the spring, pushing the trigger catch back, releasing the hammer, which is swung upwards and forwards by the two coiled hammer springs, slamming the nail embedded in the hammer into the primer of the round, firing the weapon.
I almost think you're kidding. The internet can now kill an unattended child because of this? You realize that this still requires a bullet right. I hope you don't just leave those lying around. A kid would have a hell of a lot of an easier time with a kitchen knife than trying to print our one of these, assemble it, then find the right ammunition. I don't who has checked lately but, just finding bullets to buy period isn't that easy right now.
I don't see how he could go down as the "most irresponsible person ever." He's giving people the tools (in this case downloadable content) to do with what they want. It's not his fault if somebody else doesn't do their research and prints it with the wrong material, puts it together wrong, etc.
Also, I'd love to know how many "unattended children" have the means to find and download this design, print the parts and put them together (well enough to ignite the primer, but poorly enough to explode in their face), find a bullet of the proper caliber, and then pull the trigger for whatever reason.
And he IS trying to use this for the betterment of humanity. . . his idea of that is just different than your own.
So FORBES brought this story in. Not bad legitimacy for these people to somehow get right off the bat. I'd like to kick them in the nuts for this ignorant crap. There's supporting the Second Amendment and then there's this bs. Please don't take it as indicative to what the majority of us are about, because this is deliberate abuse of rights, not the prudent observance of everyone's rights.
Supposed legitimacy? Say it ain't so. Too much about this whole gun thing lately smacks of put up.
There is no way anyone could win a law suit against Defense Distributed. They didn't 'hand' anyone anything, they just put the design on the internet, that people can do with what they want. They're not responsible for what you print. It's a chunk of plastic until you buy ammo. It's much harder to get ammo. Like @Dfablo said, it would be much easier to hurt someone with a kitchen knife.
Life does not consist mainly, or even largely, of facts and happenings. It consists mainly of the storm of thoughts that are forever blowing through one’s mind.
Please pay attention when reading an article.
-Bioguy said, "I can only assume Defense Distributed built their guns on high end, well-tuned machines; whereas the people who will most likely print these will not."
They article clearly states, "Defense Distributed tried to make a hardened plastic firing pin, but they were unable to do so with the commercial printer that they used to make the rest of the Liberator, and so rather than use an industrial printer they went with a cheap, everyday component."
The whole reason for including a cheap everyday nail, was so that any off the shelf unit can print out the required components. The intention is so that anyone, anywhere, can print out a firearm for hunting, self defense, and yes, plain old-fashioned fun.
I find this all amusing. First of all the gun is not completely undetectable once its created. Its obvious by feeling or looking at it that it is a gun. Now, it could come across as a toy but schools do not allow any toy guns on campus. If a child decides to print a gun, it is either by facination or the intent to do harm. I can't see why people get so excited with a printed gun when a child can get a gun from their parents collection or the bad guys on the street and spend less than what it takes for a 3D printer and supplies. Robbing a pawn shop or house is another good option. If a child wanted to sneak a weapon into a school whether it is printed or not, it isn't very hard to do. Kids today have many viable options of getting a gun.
The major issues are:
The government wants to have complete control over our ownership of guns; 3D printing circumvents this. It not only allows citizens the ability to control their own ownership, but it also allows guns to be easily printed in large quantities. The second issue is that the guns may be undetected when using conventional electronic scanning methods which can be a problem for transportation systems and mass gatherings.
That's like saying "I'd like to know how many kids could get in to their parents gun cabinet past the lock, load a bullet in to the chamber then accidentally fire it in their face after pulling back the slide and taking the safety off" the answer is too many. relying on the stupidity of kids is not a safety precaution.
.380 - the round that is barely enough or barely too little to be a man stopper in a single shot handgun of questionable accuracy.
Not exactly a revolutionary weapon.
I am optimistic about future 3D printers - but the real key to firearms is not in the printing, but in the materials used.
A milling machine (some current cost) will give you a much better end product.
A resin adhesive and metal filing system yet-to-be-designed might do so as well.
This is still a "proof of concept" weapon - not something you would ever take into a fight.