The Additive Revolution in Firearms
The idea of the “3D printed gun” has rightfully received plenty of attention in the last few years from a wide group of people with varying opinions on the matter. It’s not hard to understand why; additive manufacturing offers options for firearm design that are far outside the capabilities of traditional manufacturing methods. The error many have made is that they’ve decided that the 3D printed gun is a flash in the pan; they say it’s a political statement and nothing more. What they don’t realize is that in a few short years additive manufacturing has become poised to forever change not just the way that firearms are made, but the way that they are designed and conceived from start to finish.
Materials: Beyond the Space Age
In the 60s, “Space Age” materials like aluminum and polymers became viable mainstream solutions for a wide range of firearm parts. This was a big step forward in the quest to make lighter, low maintenance firearms. Decades later, we’ve perfected aluminum and injection molded polymer but we’ve barely begun to realize the potential of new 3D printed materials. The advent of printable titanium, once a nightmare to make complex parts with, allows manufacturers to affordably produce parts that are unbelievably light while possessing extreme strength and corrosion resistance. Likewise, new 3D printed plastics, infused and strengthened with materials like glass and carbon fiber, offer new dimensions to the integration of polymers into firearm design.
Lightweighting: No Longer Subtractive
Have you noticed the growing trend of users paying big money to have material removed from their guns? Shooters have discovered that complex machined features like lightening cuts and serrations improve handling and are willing to pay for the complex labor involved to optimize their guns. Increased cost for increased complexity made sense before the advent of additive manufacturing. A 3D printer building a model layer by layer doesn’t “cut” lightening cuts, it creates them from the start — and saves material doing it! In years to come people will question why we produced firearms with so much extra material only to remove it bit by bit. With the advent of practical additive manufacturing, enhancing performance doesn’t have to be subtractive.
Customization: When “Custom” Becomes Standard
As the market for aftermarket parts, trigger jobs, machining packages, colored coatings, and more has exploded in the firearms industry one word has echoed from the mouths of consumers: customization. Modular platforms which are built to be personalized have soared in popularity and shooters can now mix and match a seemingly infinite amount of parts and options to develop a system that fits their needs. Despite all of this movement towards custom builds, customization is now often a mix of company standard packages. Since a “custom” option like a set of slide cuts requires tooling and fixturing, companies are limited in the complexity they can offer for individual requests. Additive manufacturing allows a company to comprehensively modify a design instantly to meet the desires of the end user and produce it with no extra steps in production.
Find Your Place in the Future of Firearms
FORM3D|FIREARMS was born from an additive manufacturing business with a team that sees a future for 3D printing in the firearms industry. We’re focused on developing superior firearm parts while showing the potential of additive manufacturing to the world. Whether you’re a manufacturer that’s looking for a dedicated team of additive manufacturing experts to partner with on your next project or a shooter looking to get out on the range with a gun that’s on the cutting edge of design feel free to contact us or head over to our shop.