The Liberator, for all the hoopla, was not really a gun. This 3D-printed firearm, on the other hand, is a gun. It is a copy of a 1911 made using public-domain plans and a laser sintering system that solidifies metal powder. It fires just like a real semi-automatic pistol
The gun, created by Solid Concepts, is completely legal. The company has a Federal Firearms License and it’s trivial to find the blueprints online. The company created a 3D model of the 1911 and then simply blasted metal powder, heating it up and creating a solid, fireable item. The finished product needed a great deal of finishing including the removal of support material and modifications to the chamber. They laser sintered the nylon grips but used off-the-shelf springs and a store-bought magazine. They have used it to fire over 50 rounds so far.
“We made it to prove out metal laser sintering technology,” said VP of Marketing Scott McGowan. “We think it’s a departure from the Liberator. It’s not done with hobbyist printers. It’s not something you’re going to find in someone’s garage.”
McGowan expects to be able to help gunsmiths acquire difficult-to-build parts using this technology. They will only work with qualified customers and they are fully certified to manufacture weapons. The printers cost over $500,000 and McGowan noted that they are “professional engineers working with professional machines for professional clients.”
“We’re proving this is possible, the technology is at a place now where we can manufacture a gun with 3D Metal Printing,” wrote Kent Firestone, Vice President of Additive Manufacturing at Solid Concepts. “Now, if a qualifying customer needs a unique gun part in five days, we can deliver.”
Most important, in fact, is that this is a true first.
“As far as we know this is the world’s first 3d-printed metal gun,” said McGowan.