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3D vendor sells $1,500 part to make metal guns

Lucas Mearian | Oct. 2, 2014
Cody Wilson, the developer of the world's first fully 3D-printed plastic gun, is preparing to sell a consumer-grade machine that can make metal guns.

Cody Wilson, the developer of the world's first fully 3D-printed plastic gun, is preparing to sell a consumer-grade machine that can make metal guns.

Wilson calls the tabletop machine the Ghost Gunner, and describes the project as a non-profit open source hardware effort by his company Defense Distributed.

Defense Distributed's website taking preorders for the machine states it is "shipping holiday 2014." CNC, which stands for computer numerical control, relates to a milling device that removes material from a solid block in order to create a part. It is a traditional method of machining, as opposed to 3D printing, which adds material layer by layer to construct a part.

The Ghost Gunner builds on the open source community's existing work, including circuit board micro controllers from Arduino.

Ghost Gunner is roughly 13 in. by 11 in., weighs 45 pounds and can make parts up to 9.05 in. x 3.50 in. x 3.90 in. Its metal routing spindle rotates at more than 10,000 RPM. The CNC machine is currently compatible with Windows 7 or higher PCs. A Mac version of the software is expected be available as well.

All Ghost Gunner schematics and ".dd" design files will be published into the public domain, Defense Distributed's site states.

"Defense Distributed decided to build our own machine from the ground up. We found existing CNC machines too expensive, too DIY, or too inaccurate to manufacture firearms for the casual user," it reads. "By miniaturizing the build envelope to just large enough to mill common firearm receivers, we were able to improve rigidity, reduce material cost and simultaneously relax some design limits, allowing us to sell an inexpensive machine with more than enough accuracy to manufacture firearms."

The Ghost Gunner ships fully assembled and ready to use right out of the box. No programming is required. After installing the included software, you'll be ready to manufacture publicly available .dd designs.

Defense Distributed stated it is committed to releasing future firearm design files, from the AR-15 to the AR-10 assault rifles to the 1911 .45 caliber semi-automatic pistol. The company also plans to release some of its own custom firearms designs. The AR-10 and later AR-15 rifle were the basis for the U.S. military's standard M16 assault rifle.

In a demonstration video (see below), the Ghost Gunner is shown milling the lower receiver for an AR-15 assault rifle. The lower receiver is a key component to the assault rifle, containing the trigger mechanism and magazine well.

Last year, a company began offering the world's first 3D-printed, fully functioning semi-automatic pistol.

The company, Solid Concepts, created a replica of the storied .45-caliber, M1911 semi-automatic that served as the U.S. military's standard-issue sidearm for more than 70 years. Solid Concepts demonstrated the gun by firing 50 rounds with it.


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