Solid Concepts is taking 3D printing over a threshold with their just-announced 3D printed stainless steel handgun. A 1911, the Solid Concepts pistol is chambered for full-power centerfire .45 ACP cartridges.
The company is out to prove a point, that 3D printing has reached a level of maturity and precision that they can make a traditional firearm with the leading-edge technologies. Naturally, they are working with industrial-scale 3D printers, not the types of devices hobbyists have at home.
“Solid Concepts is a world leader of 3D printing services, and our ability to 3D print the world’s first metal gun solidifies our standing,” explained Alyssa Parkinson in the company announcement. “The gun is a classic 1911, a model that is at once timeless and public domain. It functions beautifully: Our resident gun expert has fired 50 successful rounds and hit a few bull’s eyes at over 30 yards. The gun is composed of 30-plus 3D printed components with 17-4 stainless steel and Inconel 625 materials. We completed it with a selective laser sintered (SLS) 3D-printed hand grip, because we’re kind of crazy about 3D printing.”
Apparently the only part of the gun that was not 3D-printed was the magazine. All of the other handgun’s components — including the rifled barrel and the springs — were 3D-printed.
“The whole concept of using a laser sintering process to 3D print a metal gun revolves around proving the reliability, accuracy and usability of 3D Metal Printing as functional prototypes and end use products,”said Kent Firestone, their V.P. of additive manufacturing. “It’s a common misconception that laser sintering isn’t accurate or strong enough, and we’re working to change people’s perspective.”
“Solid Concepts has been a service provider since 1911, doing mostly aerospace work, medical work and production runs,” Parkinson told Recoil. “Part of us building this gun was to prove that it could be done — that it’s ready to handle these kinds of pressures, the heat, etc.”
The gun was printed, assembled and test-fired 50 times, which indeed proves that current, albeit leading, 3D printing techniques can be put to use making working firearms.