The polarizing topic of 3D printed firearms is making headlines once again, as enthusiasts continue their quests to make the practice more mainstream. Sintercore, a Grand Rapids, Michigan-based company, has began commercially manufacturing 3D printable muzzle brakes for .223 caliber AR-15 pistols (those without a stock). Sintercore’s product, known as the Auxetik, is designed to reduce muzzle flip, the “kick” from the barrel when the gun is fired. The company said in a statement that the brake redirects gases emitted from the barrel upon firing, which helps minimize those destabilization effects. The Auxetik is printed in a nickel-chromium alloy known as Inconel, which is said to be as durable as steel. Sintercore must now brace itself for the inevitable backlash that will come with their new invention.
3D Printed Firearms in America
The Department of Homeland Security, in response to the growing trend of Americans printing their own firearms at home, issued a three-page bulletin to numerous state and federal law enforcement agencies regarding this phenomenon on May 21. It said, in short, that although 3D printing is technically legal, it poses risks to the public. It cites 3D firearms’ lack of serial numbers and the ability of anyone to download the files to print their own guns without background checks as its primary concerns. 3D firearms made of plastic can also be taken through metal detectors without setting them off.
Federal authorities specifically mentioned Defense Distributed (DD), the nonprofit organization known for the 3D printed pistol called the Liberator, in the bulletin. The files containing plans to print the Liberator were downloaded more than 100,000 times within a few days of the organization releasing them in May, according to Fox News. Homeland Security ordered DD to stop sharing the plans, but they were so widespread by then, people could access them through various other channels.
Photo of 3D-printed gun components by Flickr user alexpb
Where to Access 3D Printers
Technology has made it possible to print things like a dog training collar, food and jewelry and even complicated machinery like automobiles. The printers themselves are still a bit pricey for the average American, so those wanting to print their own firearms will have to seek out a third party. UPS recently announced it is testing 3D printing technology in a San Diego store before launching the project nationwide. The company, however, has already said it will not allow customers to print firearms.
The website makexyz.com is probably the best source on the web to locate a printer. All you do is type in your ZIP code, and the website displays results of nearby private owners who rent out their printers for a fee. Most will tell you right up front whether or not they allow firearms printing.
The Auxetik will set you back $400 for the materials and files. Several bloggers have criticized the company for this, as pre-manufactured muzzles can be had for a mere $40. Sintercore hopes people will pay for its sleek technology and overall performance.
Photo of Mojo 3D printer by Flickr user Intel Free Press