Six months after a gun made from 3-D printed plastic components was created and then fired, an engineering firm specializing in the technology has done the same for a 3-D printed weapon made out of metal. Solid Concepts, based in Austin, printed the parts using a laser sintering process, then, after spending around seven minutes assembling the weapon, it was fired successfully on a firing range.
"When we decided to go ahead and make this gun, we weren't trying to figure out a cheaper, easier, better way to make a gun," said Phillip Conner, Solid Concepts's DMLS manager. "What we were trying to do was dispel the notion that DMLS parts are not strong enough, or accurate enough for real-world applications." The space industry is already thinking this way, with both the European Space Agency and NASA 3-D printing spacecraft parts in order to cut costs.
The technology used by Solid Concepts has nothing to do with the technology used by Defense Distributed, the organization behind the original 3-D printed gun, and the technology that, two weeks ago, had a U.K. police force running scared—erroneously, as it happened. This is a gun that won't escape detection from X-ray scanners and as a Solid Concepts employee wrote, somewhat acidly, on the firm's blog, "So long sad disfigured Yoda heads, no more pretending like that’s going to cut it for this industry."