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. 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+ 3D Printed components with 17-4 Stainless Steel and Inconel 625 materials. They completed it with a Selective Laser Sintered (SLS) 3D Printed hand grip, because they’re kind of crazy about 3D Printing.
“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,” says Solid Concepts’ Vice President of Additive Manufacturing Kent Firestone. “It’s a common misconception that laser sintering isn’t accurate or strong enough, and we’re working to change people’s perspective.”
Laser sintering is one of the most accurate manufacturing processes available, and more than accurate enough to build the 3D Metal Printed interchangeable and interfacing parts within our 1911 series gun. The gun proves laser sintering can meet tight tolerances. 3D Metal Printing has less porosity issues than an investment cast part and better complexities than a machined part. The barrel sees chamber pressure above 20,000 psi every time the gun is fired. “We’re proving this is possible, the technology is at a place now where we can manufacture a gun with 3D Printing,” says Firestone. “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.”
I mentioned earlier this isn’t about desktop printers, and it’s not. 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; they are experts who know what they’re doing and understand 3D Printing better than anyone in this business.
The gun is 45ACP. It’s rifled and the rifling was built directly into the part – or as they like to say, “grown” into the part – using 3D Printing. This gun has NOT BEEN MACHINED. They used hand tools for some post processing (our finishers are wonderful), but they did not machine this gun. It’s born this way.
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