Is 3D printing the answer to so called “forgotten” guns

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by Lu249, Dec 27, 2021.

  1. Lu249

    Lu249 Member

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    I would like some more input on this as this has been brewing in my mind for a little while now but I feel as if 3D printing could be the answer to owning very rare (or so called forgotten weapons). For example, I feel like someone with a 3D printer could build a Pederson device. I do not own a 3D printer myself but I’ve got a close friend that does and talking to him, it seems as if the cost of material to create things is not too expensive. Each individual part could be printed and then assembled into a complete and functional (but non firing) Pederson device. Any changes that need to be made would not be too expensive to make it functional. (There’s a video of a guy on YouTube that made one out of basically all paper so I think it can be done with plastic). That person could then use the individual parts as templates to either create the parts themselves or have someone build it for them. I am a more hands on type of person and I feel it would be easier to mirror these parts off a physical “replica” part than a diagram on a screen/paper. I am not a gunsmith though, so I don’t know how feasible this actually is. If this feasible, then I think this could open the door for opportunities at owning quite rare firearms which would otherwise be impossible.

    Like I would love to own a VG 1-5 last ditch rifle. I think they are very cool (and honestly they aren’t very complicated mechanically, just gas delayed blowback. Basically a tube around a barrel with a few vent holes in it) but originals are stupid expensive and there was a guy building repros but he is only making a limited number and they’re all accounted for. I feel like using this technique could be an economical way of actually owning one.
     
  2. D.B. Cooper

    D.B. Cooper Member

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    Correction: this could open the door for opportunities at owning replicas of quite rare firearms which would otherwise be impossible.

    A plastic knock off is not the real thing. The rarity of an item is what makes it valuable and desirable. Your plan will reduce those rare guns to the level of a mass produced, plastic-fantastic, Glock.
     
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  3. Lu249

    Lu249 Member

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    But as stated above, I said using the plastic “replica” parts as a template to for metal fabrication of the parts.
     
  4. Riomouse911

    Riomouse911 Member

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    A question… not intended to be snarky just wondering; if you’re writing a program to create a 3-D printed part so you can measure and then copy it in metal.. why not find someone to program a cnc machine and make it once?

    Unless you are going to make sand molds for MIM parts and you need to melt the plastic out of the mold, this seems like it is double the effort as you’re kind of doing the same thing twice.

    (My son has a 3-D printer and it makes plastic Star Wars stuff that he likes to fiddle with, but making a gun part that takes any stress at all would be tough with his hobby quality set up. )

    Again, just wondering…

    Stay safe..
     
  5. Yo Mama

    Yo Mama Member

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    3d printing with aluminum is done for rare parts for motors all the time now. Header on a 75 boat motor was hard and expensive to find. 3d printed for 20 bucks.

    Will it last forever, no, it's not cast so it's limited in strength. But you can always print extras!

    This is where I see the best benefit for 3d printing in firearms, impossible to find parts for older guns.
     
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  6. Riomouse911

    Riomouse911 Member

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    Cool, thanks!

    I thought you were talking about plastic part printing, metal 3-D makes much more sense. :)

    Stay safe.
     
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  7. dogtown tom

    dogtown tom Member

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    The answer to what question?
    Most "forgotten guns" are forgotten guns for a reason...........they were likely junk, poorly designed, poorly manufactured, wartime expedient, disposable, inaccurate, crude, dangerous, ineffective and a host of other possibilities. Take your pick.

    Guns that aren't "forgotten", likely don't fit any of those terms above. They endured. Occasionally you find that a gun with a superior design was overshadowed, out marketed and despite being an excellent design was a commercial failure.......but those are few and far between. Enduring designs endure for reasons.






    As rare as owning a modern copy of anything. In other words zero collector value. "Rare" has a meaning, and the ability to churn out cheap plastic 3D copies doesn't make your final product rare in any sense of the word.



    "Functional (but non firing)" isn't logical. A functional Pederson device would fire.


    No, you wouldn't be owning anything rare. Just a copy of a design that wasn't successful and failed. Not much value in that IMO. Owning an airsoft HK MP5 isn't the same as having a genuine HK MP5 SMG. Nothing rare about that.

    If having a Liberator pistol (which I would love to have) is your thing, a replica is still going to leave you with the emptiness that you don't really have a Liberator pistol.....just an expensive replica.



    If there was a market for such repros, someone will fill it. That could be you. But don't think for a minute that it would be commercially viable......or rare in any sense of the word.
     
  8. CapnMac

    CapnMac Member

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    It's a complicated question.

    The "metal" printers are using fuse-able sintered metal particles. And the size of the particles determines how finely made a thing can be. (If the particles are 1mm, then the precision will only be to ±1mm--1mm is ≈40 thousands, you'd get few folks impressed by 0.080" accuracy, given the lather over MIM.)

    There are some interesting developments in other alloys for 3D printing as feedstock, but you are talking about machines in the 1/8 million dollar range, not garage workshop gear. Even the sintered metal printers are not cheap, getting them down to $50K would be a major price breakthrough.

    The $500-750 epoxy resin printers (like anycubic, eleygoo, and the like) have resolutions that are getting very fine (anycubic photon is down to 50-100µm resolution) but that's just acrylic resin. Which needs an IPA wash and UV curing for best results. The filament printers are nowhere near that resolution, which is why they are a fifth the price right now.

    And, as noted above, just being able to model a part does not mean the part is recreated. Sheetmetal stampings need a die to strike them and then bend them to finished shape--you cannot just simply machine metal to the same dimensions and get the same part. Stamped parts also need milled parts like trunions and the like, too.

    That is, unless all you want is a non-firing replica--in which case, just getting the dimensions right would work.

    Tom's point about the why things are forgotten is quite valid, too. Things get "forgotten" for very good reasons.

    And a host of political and legal reasons, too. Pedersen Device is likely an AOW if built new today. The various Volksgewehr are going to be MGs. I mean, yeah, a Nambu Type 96 would be cool, but the paperwork would still be a pain.
     
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  9. LiveLife

    LiveLife Member

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    I believe so, especially hard to find replacement parts that are no longer available. And I believe all the gun parts files have already been uploaded so any gun that was manufactured could have 3D files made available from various library sources for download.

    I thought 3D metal printed 1911 by Solid Concepts was interesting as it demonstrated "metal" printing of parts on par or better than MIM process that most guns currently are made with.



    While we wait for prices to drop, there could be market for on-demand parts ordering business.

    For me now, a better option would be aluminum/steel CNC printer to print gun parts with like this $2,400 unit - https://ggd-store.com/shop/gg3/

     
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  10. hq

    hq Member

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    I looked into 3D printing for a number of years, as a solution to manufacture hard to find parts or even complete firearms. The problem kind of solved itself when one of our investors (who also runs a rather extensive metal manufacturing business) told me to forget about it and just send him CAD files or blueprints/drawings of anything I need, from virtually any metal. They have a few big, high precision multiaxis HAAS milling machines that will otherwise idle through most of the night.

    Obviously not a common solution but I haven't ordered anything from Numrich ever since. I've even toyed with an idea to build a Luger in .45ACP now. Or something else that's normally way out of reach for almost anyone. Ironically now that manufacturing "anything" isn't an issue anymore, the amount of red tape has multiplied meanwhile. Had this opportunity existed some 10-15 years ago I'd probably have a "replica" of one of each rare guns I've ever wanted.
     
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  11. Telekinesis

    Telekinesis Member

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    3D printing is very interesting technology and has a very inexpensive material cost, but hobby 3D printing (FDM or non-metallic) is not going to be able to replicate older designs, especially areas that are pressure bearing.

    If you look at the history of 3D printing firearms (which really started around 2008-2010 or so, this is all fairly new) they had a lot of trouble when they were using filament to exactly replicate all dimensions of the AR15, especially in thinner areas where the metal had sufficient strength, but the filament did not. As soon as they started changing the design to take into account the structural properties of the materials they were using (as opposed to the properties of aluminum from the original design) the guns started performing better and lasting longer. While these designs ended up being bulkier and less visually appealing, they are significantly better.

    Additionally, designs that are 100% 3D printed (including things like barrels and bolts) are very low use and almost curiosities rather than legitimate, usable firearms. I mean, they work, but not for very long. The real advances are happening with “hybrid” designs that combine 3D printed parts (usually including the receiver) with other off the shelf metal parts like barrels to make functional firearms. They look weird but reportedly work very well because they’re designed from the beginning to have the right structural features to handle the forces created by firing the gun.

    This is a long winded way to say that if you build something out of most of the common filaments available to hobby 3D printers to be the exact dimensions of something originally designed to be made out of hardened metal, don’t expect it to be suitable for firing ammunition in any quantity.

    Printing parts to use as a model to build might make sense in a rapid prototyping role to check relative fit, but any machinist (even a hobby machinist) should be able to make a part based on a design without having a 3D printed model. Taking dimensions off of a 3D printed part, as others have noted, would be problematic as most hobby 3D printers aren’t anywhere near the accuracy that even hobby machinists can obtain.

    That said, I think it would be possible to do some interesting things with lost PLA casting. This isn’t easy and casting is a completely separate skill and tool set. You’d likely still need to do final machining, but it would help with getting the basic shape set up.


    Honestly if you want one of these and can’t find someone who is making/selling one, your best bet will be to buy a lathe and mill and learn how to make one yourself.

    The VG 1-5 is gas delayed blowback firing an intermediate cartridge which would not do well out of a fully 3D printed firearm. Best to make it out of metal, especially if you want it to be as close to the original as possible.
     
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  12. SSN Vet

    SSN Vet Member

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    Everything I've ever 3D printed (FDM or SLA) required a lot of post processing to clean up the supports and get an acceptable finish.

    Also, circular features are usually not perfect circles (CAM programs interpolate the geometry into tiny line segments).

    Also, the resin can distort ever so slightly while curing.

    So anything that requires truly precision geometry (+/- 0.001) will likely have to be printed oversize and then machined to final dimensions.

    The reason nobody does this (outside of hobbyist or people trying to claim fame as the first to do something) is because it's not cost effective.

    Economics trumps all.... people vote with their wallets.
     
  13. buck460XVR

    buck460XVR Member

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    With modern CNC machines, do we even need a "plastic template"? I'm guessing we already have the capabilities to make reproductions of old and rare firearms. Just that low demand and high costs makes it not really practical. High demand has already brought back a few firearms once taken out of production. Pythons, Lightning and Lever action carbines. SxS shotguns were once a thing of the past, but now are seeing a rebound. No 3D printing on any of them.
     
  14. theotherwaldo

    theotherwaldo Member

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    For pressure-bearing, high-impact, high friction, higher-precision parts, CNC machining is your friend.
    For items that need to be reasonably tough and rigid but don't need to handle high pressures or impacts, sintered metal 3D printing can do the job.
    For light-weight low-impact components like grips, hand guards, trigger guards and such, plastic 3D printing is usually adequate.
     
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  15. Neo-Luddite

    Neo-Luddite Member

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    Interesting area to consider...but the tech hasn't quite caught up...at least on the "consumer" level...if we're talking about functioning firearms. No doubt the defense suppliers have enabled almost anything in this area and the trickle down tech will arrive someday. Not quite yet but very soon, no doubt! Happy New Year and stay hopeful!
     
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  16. mokin

    mokin Member

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    +1

    On several occasions I've read of designs that were sound but the materials or technology wasn't economically viable for the item to be successful. While there is a reason many of the "forgotten" weapons (and other things) were forgotten, sometimes they were simply forgotten because by the time technology caught up with the design, the need for the item had disappeared.

    I can see 3-D printing and inexpensive CNC milling being used to restore obsolete firearms that have been relegated to wall hanger status to shooters.
     
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  17. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    The big hangup there is getting the dimensions of a good part to reproduce. There are scanners and tracers but you still have to have that good part.
     
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  18. CapnMac

    CapnMac Member

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    An important point right there.

    The Technical Data Package is more than just the parts, it's all the parts tolerances, too.
    A given part can be made to the "envelope" minimum and maximum QC tolerances, and will "work" just fine. But, if you don't know the thing is at either maximum or minimum (or both across all the dimensions) then duplicating the part "as found" can have less-good results.

    The other significant part about "forgotten weapons" is one Ian has pointed out before. That while stated interest is almost always high, actual, executed sales, seldom ever are. From the low demand, there's little or no economy of scale, which means very high MSRP. Which further chills sales.

    Ohio Ordnance builds a spectacular semi-auto BAR. Fit and finish are immaculate; arguably better than the milspec originals. There are any number of people online or in person who will aver "I'd love to have a BAR." However the $10K MSRP dampens that ardor considerably. So, they only sell like 5 or 10 a year. Similar numbers are associated with the SA copies of the Stg-44 and FG-42. "Everyone wants one" except only 5 or 10 actually pony up the cash.

    It's a complicated calculus.
     
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  19. zaitcev

    zaitcev Member

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    The Cogburn Arsenal made a name for themselves by 3D-printing in metal. Mostly is some oddball trinklets like impossible to find stripper clips for ancient repeater rifles. I think they started in plastic, their breakout product was the stripper spoon for Mini-14 magazines, IIRC.
     
  20. 4v50 Gary

    4v50 Gary Moderator Staff Member

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    If you're into investment casting, 3D would be a good way to make the pattern.
     
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  21. jmorris

    jmorris Member

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    Back in the mid/late ‘90’s I remember seeing a $250,000 3D printer that “printed” using wax. The sample I was able to play with was a lot more precise, looked more like a machined part, than the clearly visible layers my 3D printer leaves behind. Then again, I paid less than $200 for it.

    There are a number of businesses that make nonfiring replicas. This one may have some you haven’t even heard of.

    https://www.atlantacutlery.com/non-firing-dummy-weapons
     
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