Originally posted by GogoVicMorrow
Boring out a barrel is probably the easiest part, and there will undoubtedly be 3d metal fabricators.
Barrel making is most definitely not the easiest part, arguably it's the most difficult part of producing firearms.
Pretty much anybody with slight machining skills, mechanical aptitude, some basic machining equipment and the knowledge of how a gun works could build
a working receiver, bolt, stock, etc.
To construct a barrel is much more difficult on the other hand. First, there is the specialty tools needed to rifle the barrel. The advanced knowledge
required to accurately rifle it. Then there various processes to go through in order to strengthen the barrel so that it can fire without blowing up
in your face. You have to know what types of rifling twist for what types of rounds being fired. Making barrels is the most advanced part of the gun.
I could build a simple recoil blowback operated rifle with some milling equipment, a lathe, some hand tools, and the proper materials. Making a barrel
that actually passes as a gun barrel I would have no idea where to start.
Yes you can just make an EXTREMELY thick piece of hollowed out stainless bar stock and have a smooth bore rifle. But then the rifle won't shoot worth
a chit, and you still run the possibility of the rifle blowing up in your face. Such a gun wouldn't be any better than "zip guns" which have been made
for decades, which are just handmade one time use guns out of standard parts.
Now combine that with the fact that this guy didn't actually even make a gun with a 3D printer, he made a lower receiver and assembled all the real
parts on it and you see that this isn't anything groundbreaking. He already made the CAD file of the receiver, so he could have simply used a CNC
milling machine and made an aluminum receiver.
Once again I'll say this just isn't anything new, groundbreaking, impressive, or anything else. Why is a guy making a cad drawing of a receiver, and
having a computer print it out really much different than making a cad drawing of a receiver, and having a CNC milling machine carve the thing out of
an aluminum billet? It's the same concept, draw parts on computer, then have a computer controlled tool turn it into a real object.
The only reason this is getting as much attention is because of the extremely misleading article. The author obviously knows very little about
firearms or manufacturing.
There is nothing here that would effect gun control or people's ability to construct firearms in any way.
Now, say, 20 years down the line when we have much more advanced integrated printers that can print with polymer and different types of metal all on
the same printer at the same time, and the way they fuse layer upon layer of metal gets strong enough to match a heat treated and hardened barrel made
in the traditional way, and also make metal parts with different properties (such as spring steel) THEN you got something groundbreaking.
Then you could quite literally download a gun file, press print, and pull a fully functioning firearm out of your printer. This would actually allow
stronger and lighter guns than we have now. Polymer could be used even more extensively and be reinforced internally in a key areas with metal or even
such materials as carbon fiber (we are assuming a highly advanced future model capable of printing in a number of different materials simultaneously
I'm thinking something along the lines of a carbon fiber reinforced polymer barrel with a steel lining containing the rifling. The steel liner which
contains the rifling would stand up to the wear and tear of a bullet screaming down it thousands of feet per second. It could be made very thin as to
dramatically lower weight.
Then the carbon fiber (or even carbon nanotube) reinforced polymer barrel would be the part that actually imparts the strength to the barrel, to fight
against the massive pressures. Imagine a barrel capable of taking a load much higher than any current barrels, but also being 1/8th the weight. Then
consider the ability simply print such barrels instead of requiring highly skilled people, expensive and specific equipment, and lots of time.
That would be very exciting. A compound barrel like this just might be a reality in the future if such technology keeps developing. You could have a
.50BMG rifle with a 30" barrel, and the whole gun would be equal in weight to an M4.
edit on 26-7-2012 by James1982 because: (no reason given)