Solid Concepts, a 3D printing service based in Austin,Texas, has created the world's first 3D printed metal pistol.
Based on the original designs of John Browning's 1911, almost every part of the gun was created through a technique called direct metal laser sintering. Proving its durability, the firearm has successfully fired 50 rounds of .45 Winchester white box ammunition.
According to Kent Firestone, Solid Concepts' vice president of additive manufacturing, the company's goal is to prove the worth of 3D printing with metal in a statement.
"We're proving this is possible, the technology is at a place now where we can manufacture a gun with 3D Metal Printing," said Firestone. "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."
This comes as the first widely known 3D-printed gun, the "Liberator," was made entirely of plastic except the firing pin and a piece of steel for detection by metal detector. Though the Liberator could be printed by anyone with access to a 3D printer, its true effectiveness has been called into question. The plastic gun was accurate only up to a few meters and capable of firing one shot successfully.
Safety and regulation has been a top concern considering the ease of 3D printing of firearms. Many feel that the surge in 3D printing could lead to the creation of unregistered weapons though the company dismisses that assertion due to price alone. Outside of access to powdered metals, Solid Concepts spokesperson Alyssa Parkinson mentioned a starting price of $10,000 for a metal 3D printer in a blog post.
"The industrial printer we used cost more than my college tuition (and I went to a private university) and the engineers who run our machines are top of the line; they are experts who know what they're doing and understand 3d printing better than anyone in this business," said Parkinson.