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3-D Printer: Metal Gun Produced With Device Raises Concerns

Image: 3-D Printer: Metal Gun Produced With Device Raises Concerns

By Morgan Chilson   |   Friday, 08 Nov 2013 06:13 PM

A Texas company printed a metal gun using a 3-D printer, though not the desktop kind of 3-D printers that are easily purchased, raising concerns that people may someday be able to print their own untraceable weapons.

Solid Concepts, which specializes in 3-D printing, wrote in a company blog that it has fired more than 50 rounds from the gun, which is patterned after a “classic 1911,” which refers to an M1911 designed by John Browning.

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The blog opened with a statement meant to allay concerns that just anyone can print up a gun. “Let me start out by saying one, very important thing: This is not about desktop 3D Printers,” the blog reported, later clarifying that this 3-D technology is expensive.

“The industrial printer we used costs more than my college tuition (and I went to a private university) and the engineers who run our machines are top of the line,” the blog author, Alyssa, said. “Thanks to them, Solid Concepts is debunking the idea that 3D Printing isn’t a viable solution or isn’t ready for mainstream manufacturing. We have the right materials, and the right engineers who know how to best program and maintain these machines, to make 3D Printing accurate, powerful and here to stay.”

Desktop 3-D printers can print just about any design out of plastic, and a Texas group in May caused a lot of controversy when it put video online of someone firing a plastic handgun printed from a 3-D printer, CNN said.

The group, Defense Distributed, also offered up instructions on how to print the gun on its website, which were taken down after the U.S. State Department got involved.

Solid Concepts vice president Kent Silverstone said printing the gun was a way to show people that metal sintering, the process of printing 3-D with metal, is a reliable process.

“It’s a common misconception that laser sintering isn’t accurate or strong enough, and we’re working to change people’s perspective,” Silverstone said.

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