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Engineering firm Solid Concepts has produced the first 3D-printed metal gun, and is out to prove that it works as well as a gun that comes from a factory.
Eric Mutchler, a project coordinator and engineer at Solid Concepts, fired 50 rounds from the 3D-printed pistol to show that the material would hold up. He told Mashable that he plans to fire 500 more rounds as further proof.
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Mutchler said he wanted to demonstrate that a 3D-printed gun would operate under the intense pressure caused by firing a bullet to prove its durability.
Previous iterations were printed in plastic. The makers of these guns faced legal issues resulting from the Undetectable Firearms Act of 1988, which prevents anyone from making a gun from material that can quietly pass through an airport metal detector. The plastic guns were also unstable and often cracked after firing several rounds.
Solid Concepts won't run into the first problem, because its gun is made from metal, and the company has a firearms license. The success of its weapon should also give manufacturers more confidence in the emerging technology, Mutchler said.
This sense of confidence could boost customer service, too.
"Whatever part fails on [a 3D-printed gun], I can have that part building while I'm driving to the shop and have it done in a matter of hours," Mutchler said.
For now, no plans are set to to sell the pistol. But that was never the point to begin with, Mutchler said.