World's first 3D printed metal gun manufactured

Nov. 11, 2013
Solid Concepts has made a 1911 classic design gun out of stainless steel and Inconel components with a laser sintering process.

Austin, TX - Solid Concepts, a provider of 3D printing services, has manufactured the world's first 3D printed metal gun using a laser sintering process and powdered metals. The gun, a 1911 classic design, functions beautifully and has already handled 50 rounds of successful firing, says the company. It is composed of 33 17-4 stainless steel and Inconel 625 components, and decked with a selective laser sintered (SLS) carbon-fiber filled nylon hand grip. The successful production and functionality of the 1911 3D printed metal gun proves the viability of 3D printing for commercial applications.

"We're proving this is possible; the technology is at a place now where we can manufacture a gun with 3D metal printing," says Kent Firestone, VP of additive manufacturing at Solid Concepts. "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."

The metal laser sintering process Solid Concepts used to manufacture the 30+ gun components is one of the most accurate additive manufacturing processes available and more than accurate enough to build the interchangeable and interfacing parts within the 1911 series gun, the company says, allowing tight tolerances. Plus, 3D printed metal has less porosity issues than an investment cast part and better complexities than a machined part. The 3D printed gun barrel sees chamber pressures above 20,000 psi every time it is fired. Solid Concepts chose to build the 1911 because the design is public domain.

The 3D printed metal gun proves that 3D printing isn't just making trinkets; it is a viable solution and ready for mainstream manufacturing, says Solid Concepts.

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. The company also has capabilities in tooling and injection molding.

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