By: Cameron Williams
One of the most talked about discussions in 3D printing right now is how the gun industry is being affected. While most of the conversation has been political we want to simply look into what the technology is really doing for this industry. The capability of creating custom unique parts with 3D printing is exactly why the gun community has embraced the technology with “open arms”. There has been a lot of buzz within the online gun forum community; readers have been discussing the technology and its possible uses, some include: grips, flashlight and accessory mounts, butt stocks, bi-pods and more.
Traditional gun manufacturing methods have been largely unchanged for hundreds of years now, but with the advancements of 3D printing, gun makers can take advantage of this tool to advance their “age old” technology. Gun makers now have the ability to create safer, more efficient, customized gun parts. While the benefits have additive technology is something many gun manufacturers have been using for several years we are now seeing the adoption at the consumer level.
3D printing is a great way for the gun community to customize their equipment to suit their specific needs. Many shooters pride themselves on the quality of their weapons and equipment. Now with the advancements of the technology, gun enthusiasts can create truly unique custom guns tailored to their shooting style. With a combination of 3D printing and scanning, shooters can now customize their grip, stance, size and basically anything else that has to do with personal comfort and preference. Just one more revolutionized manufactured part that 3D printing can check off of its list.
Until recently, most of the proposed ideas have been to make plastic parts that accessorize guns, many of which are currently made of high strength polymers. But now with improved technology and the accessibility of metal materials such as Stainless Steel 17-4, printing a fully functional metal gun using the DMLS (Direct Metal Laser Sintering) process has opened the door for an improvement in design and reliability.
Rather than focusing on the opposed “threat” 3D printing guns, we should be focusing energy on the opportunities for developments and advancements for customized gun manufacturing.