Today we have a roundup of things loosely connected to home gunsmithing and new technologies: what folks are printing, a well-deserved award for a free radical, an amazing bit of nonsense at a gun range, and general additive technology news including a reasonably-priced 3D scanner, reasonably priced modeling instruction, a power grab by the Librarian of Congress (what’s in the water in Washington?), a DIY (partly printed) rail gun, and desktop 5-axis CNC.
People are Printing…
That’s a FOSSCAD Hermes lower, assembled into a very nice AR with an equally home-grown (although not 3D-printed) suppressor with a stainless-steel core and titanium alloy tube. Homegrown, but decidedly not low tech.
Ah, but can it shoot?
How about some practical accessories? A lot of 3D-printing gunnies start with grips. Here are a couple with a twist.
The Punisher! A bit gaudy for our taste, but de gustibus non disputandum est, eh? It’s interesting how the layers of 3D printing (set up for a pretty coarse, therefore rapid, print) resemble wood grain.
This one’s an MOE styled grip printed in Laywood material — filament containing actual wood fibers. It feels “wooden.” It looks different. The next is probably one of the most practical simple prints a beginner can do (although the files are not released yet).
It’s a hand stop for a Keymod handguard/rail system.
The next print is something you hope you don’t need… because it means your state went Full Retard. It’s a mag coupler for joining two 10-round magazine base to base, for a legal flip-to-reload 2 x 10 round unit. If you’re stuck in Cuomostan…
Here it is in place, in a ban-state AR. (On, naturally, a ban-state legal AR). Is there nothing the AR cannot do? Well, there are many things it can do, including making ban-happy politicians’ brain waves go nonlinear.
Bill of Rights Award for Cody Wilson
From the Citizen’s Committee fpr the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, and the 2nd Amendment Foundation. Wilson’s reply:
— Cody R. Wilson (@Radomysisky) October 26, 2015
Ignorance of the Law is No Excuse
But some Jobsworth at his local range managed to eject 3D-printed firearms enthusiast ArmaDelite for not violating the Undetectable Firearms Act, anyway. He responded, with the text of the law.
— ArmaDelite FOSSCAD (@ArmaDelite) October 27, 2015
Meanwhile, we have found a use for the officials and workers of the Transportation Security Administration, who worry about undetectable firearms while their mouth-breathing “security officers” miss detectable firearms in tests. (Not all of them… they just miss 95% of them). We’ve discovered that they’re useful for checking if the floor is level: they drool out of both corners of their mouths!
Smartphone Hosted 3D Scanner
It wouldn’t be a 3D roundup without something on Kickstarter, and this time, it’s this wazoo new 3D Scanner from Australia, mate, that attaches to your smartphone, and exploit’s the phones chipset and I/O.
The Eora 3D Scanner doesn’t have a lot of applications we can see to weapons work, not even to reverse engineering (although its claimed specs are better than any other consumer priced 3d scanner). It’s just pretty neat technology. Check out the bluetooth-connected turntable. It’s also interesting how they’re manufacturing it, from precision-machined 6061 extrusions. Who has some good ideas on how to apply it?
Want to learn to model?
They also have a two-hour overview of 3D printing for $20.
Is it Against The Law to use Your Own Filament?
Another office that wants to regulate 3D printing, the Librarian of Congress (who died and made her Queen?), says: it depends. A recent opinion caused by Stratasys’s desire to not only lock people into its overpriced, underperforming filaments, but to control what they print with Stratasys (or Makerbot) printers, says resoundingly that if you own the printer, you can put your own filament in it.
That is, unless you want to print something that might be regulated, somewhere. You know, like gun parts — which Stratasys, all-in for gun control, doesn’t want you to print.
Yes, this is totally irrational, not to mention borderline National Socialism, but you say that like it’s a bad thing. Stratasys and Makerbot execs, not to mention DC bureaucrats, think having control of your prototyping is a good thing. Because they’re not like the little people.
Michael Weinberg has tried to make sense out of this ruling. If he hasn’t succeeded, it may be because thee just isn’t a lot of sense there to be had.
Plasma DIY Railgun
This homebuilt railgun was in the news recently. Make Magazine has a nice run-down on it and its creator. He had to solve all the same problems that big aerospace and defense prime contractors who have worked with this tech have done, but he did it on a beer budget. The inventor, David Wirth, is a bit diffident about the whole “gun” thing, but his ambition is notable, even if his idea of range safety is a bit on the weak side. The unstable projectiles dissipate their energy very rapidly, fortunately.
It looks like Wirth, a UCLA MS/BS in Aerospace Engineering, is moving on (to metal 3D printing) after demonstrating proof of concept. “I love the feeling you get when you’re the first person to do something,” he confessed to Make’s Gareth Branwyn.
His gun, the Wirth Experimental Portable Railgun Version 1 (there probably won’t be a 2) uses two machined rails and a very high voltage from an array of high-voltage capacitors to fire small, unstabilized conductive projectiles.
This latest video — posted a couple days ago — has so many failed attempts to launch a teflon (PTFE polypropylene) slug (with a conductive, sacrificial copper ring that’s supposed to form plasma) that the experimental nature of the project is never in doubt.
If you watch all the videos, you can see that many of the components are 3D printed. Previous tests of the railgun have fired various projectiles — and temporarily fried the Arduino control board with electromagnetic pulse. (It recovered, suggesting our homemade gadgets will survive the attack of Skynet).
5-Axis Desktop CNC
Here’s a post that promises a 5-axis CNC for $5k. We investigated at the machine’s actual website and its Kickstarter page, and we found (1) like Cody Wilson and DefCAD, they found CNC to be less than a slam dunk, and (2) unlike the GhostGunner, this is going to be really limited in size, power and rigidity. If you have parts to make of aluminum that are smaller than about four inches in any dimension, this tool might work for you, or just as a way to learn multiaxial CNC.
It’s interesting that the parts for these little CNCs ate made on honking big CNCs, so the knowledge transfer initially went the other way!
Thinking about it overnight, we woke to the realization that the sweet spot for this thing might not be in cutting jewel-like aluminum pieces at all, but in making wax patterns for investment-cast short-run parts or prototypes. We still like 3DP better as a production way of doing that — 3D Systems makes a printer especially printing wax, and Pinetree (one of Ruger’s casting subsidiaries, or some similar corporate relationship) installed at least two of them last year.
Correction & Update
Correction: Due to an editing error, the end of the last sentence was cut off originally. It has been restored.
Update: in the light of Tam’s comments below, this short video, received just today from 3DPlatform.com, makers of the 1-meter-square-by-50-cm-high-build area 3DP1000, seems to be on target.