In the firearms community, 3D printing is a topic of hot conversation. Firearms enthusiasts frequently pitch the benefits of additive manufacturing, which allows firms both large and small to rapidly prototype new components and pieces, and bring them to market faster. Hobbyists have been watching the pricing of AM equipment fall, some hoping that they can one day print complete firearms at home. As the saying goes, they want to "be able to produce AR-15s at home using 3D printers they paid for in Bitcoin..."
While 2017 saw massive strides in metal 3D printing technology, 2018 has been shaping up to be the year metal 3D printing makes commercial breakthroughs, especially in the firearms sector. With the huge advantage presented by metal 3D printing in terms of strength and durability, the firearms world embracing this additive manufacturing technique is only natural. There have been a few success stories so far in this space, from suppressors to 1911-style pistols, and 2018 will undoubtedly see many more.
Just a few months ago, Gander Mountain filed for bankruptcy—shutting down some of the largest firearms superstores in the country and proving that practically no industry is safe from what commentators are calling the “Retail Apocalypse.”
MIM 17-4 PH is a powder metal alloy containing iron, chromium, and nickel. It’s ideal for firearms manufacturers who demand final product integrity, part complexity, and lower cost per part.
It's truly interesting times for the firearms industry. The election of Donald Trump to the office of President of the United States has cooled the market somewhat, in a phenomenon known as the 'Trump Slump', though numbers reported via the FBI's National Instant Check System (NICS, aka the 'background check' system) for firearm purchases still show record levels of commerce in the industry.
Whether you’re designing silencers for muzzle-loading guns or the most efficient AR-15 lower receiver, keep these three ideas in mind to ensure the most profitable approach to firearms manufacturing and design.
1. Design Specifically for the Additive Manufacturing Process
As a designer, you need to have a particular metal additive manufacturing (AM) process in mind when creating your CAD model.
More firearms manufacturers realize that additive manufacturing is on target for their supplier sourcing strategies. How? Essentially, they’re banking on reducing costs by collapsing their manufacturing supply chain.