|3D printers are being used more and more to create a wide variety of objects, some incredibly useful (like skeletal implants) and some just for fun (like toys). Now another - somewhat controversial - example of just how ubiquitous this technology could become: a working gun built using an AR-15 rifle part made with a 3D printer.|
The gun maker, going by the name "HaveBlue," on an online forum constructed the AR-15's lower receiver - which holds many of the gun's main components, including the trigger assembly and magazine well - using a modified design from cncguns.com and an older model Stratasys 3D printer. Since the existing design he started with was intended to be made out of solid metal, HaveBlue altered it a bit by strengthening some of the lug holes and adding a trigger guard. He then printed the design with ABS plastic and used a conversion kit to assemble a .22 pistol.
He then successfully fired 200 rounds using the 3D printed lower receiver without any trouble. To test it further, a metal AR-15 upper receiver was attached and a few shots fired with a higher-caliber .223. So far, the part seems to be holding up well and hasn't shown any major signs of wear.
This certainly isn't the first 3D printed gun part in existence, but it could be the first that's been made into a fully working firearm. What's important to note is that under U.S. law the lower receiver of an AR-15 (or any similar gun for that matter) is the component that is legally considered the "firearm." It's the main part that allows the gun to function, and even has the serial number printed on it for identification. In the U.S., making guns">making guns yourself isn't illegal so long as you don't sell or distribute them.
Recall in the film In the Line of Fire, the John Malkovich character constructs a pistol from plastic that breaks down and is not detectable by standard metal detectors for his ultimate crime. HaveBlue's gun follows a similar storyline. With 3D print technology getting to even smaller resolutions and capabilities - even to the nanoscale level-, the constraints of the materials will certainly fall away in the future as well.
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