World's First Entirely 3D Printed Gun

If you think that piece of plastic above is just a toy, you'd be wrong. It's an actual gun. That fires standard handgun bullets. That's 3D printed. Yes, printed. It's the first entirely 3D printed gun, previous 3D printed weapons have just been specific parts. Welcome to the future.

The 3D printed gun, called 'The Liberator', was made by Cody Wilson, the 25-year-old University of Texas law student who was the star of Motherboard's documentary Click. Print. Gun. Wilson has built the prototype weapon above and plans to release the CAD files for the gun next week to the public. Basically, anyone will then be able to print the weapon with no background checks or serial numbers.

Forbes says that the Liberator is made from sixteen different pieces and uses interchangeable barrels for different calibers. All those pieces are made from ABS plastic and formed from a Stratasys Dimension SST printer. The gun also uses a nail to act as its firing pin and Wilson added a six ounce piece of steel to the gun so it can be recognised by metal detectors. Kind! But of course, people who print this gun themselves won't be required to do that. Plastic guns aren't just toys anymore. [Forbes]


    ABS Plastic? As in the stuff that LEGO is made of? When I was a kid, I made LEGO guns, but they never fired real bullets... I feel old, and sad at the state of the world (and I'm only nineteen)

    Again, barrel cannot be printed.

      Really? I looked through a couple of articles on it and it seems the barrel is 3d printed too, the only components that aren't are the nail for a firing pin and the chunk of metal that's purely there so it complies with his federal firearms license.

      *edit* I do however wonder how well this thing would work on any current home 3D printer, Cody rents a corporate level printer for his work which is vastly more precise.. This wouldn't quite be as big a deal if you found that any one printed on a high end home system jams 75% of the time or something (just speculating). Although even if that is the case it won't be too long before home systems catch up to current corporate ones for accuracy :/ (I <3 3D printers.....I however don't like guns)

      Last edited 04/05/13 6:35 pm

        Plastic barrel? It would last one shot, if any.

          Well, it is named after a pistol intended for one shot only.

          Personally, I wouldn't fire that thing without the aid of a long string and a vice. 3D printed plastic doesn't have the best reputation for durability,.

          I would not be too hasty to disregard that barrel. Judging that the grip has that right angled connector would indicate it's AR15 compatible grip that top edge would be 3.5cm. so with a size reference and the style of that cartridge, looks to be a .25 ACP that has a diameter about 6mm so looking at the barrel being twice as think as the hole in the centre... thats about 12mm of ABS plastic (that has a melting point of 105c) and that bullet leaves the barrel around 1100 feet per second (almost the same as a .22 LR) thats very low. When you take in consideration that the tensile strength of ABS plastic is 40 compared Aluminum that has a strength 110 but could take the force of a .22 LR with a thickness of 2mm... what i'm trying to say without me going a lot of detail is that the person that made that SCARY bit of plastic engineering look to of did the math on this one.

            Even so, the accuracy of this gun will be worse then a musket. There is a reason for barrels to be made from high carbon steel, mostly.

              It looks like it has some rifling but saying that the length of the barrel is quite short... still would not like that pointed at me.

            How would the rifling fare though... or is this more of a blunderbluss?

              I was thinking about that and on closer inspection on the photo i can see metallic tint... i'm guessing that is copper transfer on the rifling.

            Clearly none of you have ever fired a rifle or handgun. They get really, really hot because there is high powered low explosive being set off every time you pull the trigger. It's not the barrel that is a problem, the chamber will melt around the cartridge case after you fire it. This thing will be good for one shot and one shot only.

              I have Mosin rifle, and this is why I am very sceptical.

                WOO! Nagants FTW! I love my M-44 :D

                  Ha ha ha, the three of us, what are the odds of that? .Polish M44.

                  Last edited 05/05/13 8:16 pm

              First of all only Idiots assume what fellow posters have and have not done... i find that Gizmodo has a very diverse crowd.
              Chamber pressure of the cartridge in question is around the 24,000 PSI mark and that's well within the 32,000 PSI tolerance of ABS plastic.

              Last edited 05/05/13 10:00 am

                Can you not read? I didn't say the plastic would break, I said it would melt.

                  I pose the same derogative question to you sir! I already addressed that issue about the melting point of ABS plastic... but i guess i need to reiterate in some detail for Mr "Itheonlyonethathasshotafirearm" The melting point is 105c and being this design looks like a single shot there would be no way a single .25 ACP would cartridge would create that kinda heat and i'm guessing the material in question would dissipate the heat quite quickly. yes you are correct to say "They get really, really hot" and yes it's because of the rapid expansion of hot gases but steel is a brilliant conductor of heat and dissipates it slowly over time.

                  How long does heat have to be applied to ABS plastic before it melts significantly? I've been burnt by spent cartridges before but they certainly don't stay hot for long. I'd be keen to see a video of this in action!

                  I can't believe this guy hasn't be shut down, though. Further proof of how terrible their legal system is..

                  What, you think a .22 cartridge burns at less than 105 degrees? Are you seriously that ignorant? We're talking temperatures of several hundred degrees, transmitted very efficiently by brass cartridges to the chamber walls. It would have the same effect as putting a blowtorch to it. We used to occasionally empty cartridges to flash-cook canned food and if you weren't very careful you could easily burn through the metal.

                Quteing the ultimate tensile stress as the failure point is wrong. The material fails at yield stress which is closed to 7,000 PSI for ABS, and that's at ambient temperature (yield is significantly reduced at elevated temperatures). Also your assertion that, because the internal pressure is lower than the ultimate tensile stress that the barrel will not fail, is wrong. Stress in the barrel is not simply equal to the internal pressure (it needs to be calculated). I am not trying to give you a lecture on engineering, but I do have some advice: Don't talk about things you don't understand, and more importantly don't quote figures you don't understand, or you may end up looking like an idiot.

                  Ok you have shown intelligence (can't be too careful with the amount of twelve year olds that seem to know everything on the net ha ha) so lets not be dicks to each other. Im intrigued by this so let work together on the math here... I was getting numbers for fails around your number (6,000 - 8,500 PSI) but that was on 3mm ABS did you take account of what i guess to be 12mm thickness? If so can i see the workings and formula?

                  Last edited 05/05/13 8:18 pm

          If you take this onto an airplane mate and hold people on it hostage? One shot is all you need...

            Not realistically true. A single bullet ANYWHERE in a major airline plane by design will have little catastrophic effect.

              Through the pilots face.

                co pilot

                  The major point there becomes not tipping your hand and firing the gun then doesn't it, fire the shot, lose your power, have the shot, both know one or the other could go. A terrible situation. Sure there def is a copilot but the chaos caused by a murder will likely give you enough time to seize control. By enabling the world to be able to create printed guns we're entering a pretty dark time in the future, maybe not right now but in 10 years time? I sure hope some sort of safeties can be built into printers to disallow items like this to be printed.

                  Completely redundant since 9/11 - now everyone knows they are all dead if they lose control of the aircraft.

              it's not a stretch of the imagination to believe that a criminal would build more than one of these

                Thats a good point, I LARP a cutpurse and i carry 1 shot flintlock replicas and i've found having 6 seems to work well. Carrying multiple 1 shot firearms isnt as good as a single Semi-Auto but in the case of an airline, you only really need one, 2 is just gravy

      Actually the way I read it was that the only thing not 3D printed in the nail as the firing pin. Barrel is printed and can be printed in different specifications for different calibres.

    But even IF it is an ABS barrel after the first shot every one there after would be less powerful and less accurate as the barrel's bore was torn apart and melted.
    If you sleeved it with metal tubing the fit would still not be accurate without machining so accuracy and power would be way down.

      I doubt these are designed to last for long periods of time, once you have a printer capable of printing one they'd probably cost you all of $5 or less to put together and very little effort, it also looks very small (size of a derringer from that pic?) and very light....So there wouldn't be anything stopping someone from carrying several and just discarding them, it's not like it takes 10 shots to kill someone :/

    This jerk is ruining a fantastic technology.

      It was bound to happen eventually, unfortunately it's one of those things which will stop it in it's tracks before most people get to use the tech.

    meh, you still need bullets.

    though this worries me only because it might give the government enough reason to ban or restrict the sale of 3D printers :(

      The bonus of being in Australia, we can't pop down to the local department store to buy ammunition >_< so yes this is much more of a problem for the USA than it is for us.. I highly doubt there would be restrictions placed on the sale of 3D printers because of this, you may see some interesting laws regarding posting 3d designs and such online start appearing though

        You can make your own inconspicuously though by refilling casings.. Where there's a will there's a way, and as usual - the weapon usually isn't a the problem (when stored correctly and used with training), it's the persons intent that is objectionable.

          It's nowhere near as easy and it requires obtaining controlled substances, people may just be able to go out and buy potassium nitrate in the states I don't know but here if you tried that you'd be getting a visit rather quickly, not to mention most people wouldn't have a clue how to make usable bullet casings so you still need some in the first place. I know salt peter and other chemicals involved can be refined but there's issues with that too.

          I do agree though if your determined it can be done (and a lot worse) but the longer it takes the more it eliminates the chances of heat of passion actions or hotheads doing it because they're more likely to lose their temper and use what's easily accessible. So I still think the difficulty of access to ammunition does help lower the risks (not eliminate).

          This all being said 3D printers are advancing quickly, ones that use metal will become affordable as a household tool sooner or later (I am talking years away obviously) and chemical ones are being researched but I'd imagine those would remain regulated and commercial/research only because well it would be insane to hand a tool like that out to anyone.

            You can get potassium nitrate pretty easily here in Australia. Just go to a garden shop and buy some fertilizer. It's actually a REALLY common chemical with all sorts of legitimate uses.

            Making gunpowder is actually quite trivial once you understand how to do it.

      Really? Are CNC Mills banned because you can make knives or other things?

      What we need to worry about is when they can 3d print bullets..

      In the meantime we need this
      (contains foul language so prob NSFW). Skip to3:15 for the relevant section..

    I agree. This guy might just push those fearful politicians to ban the 3D printer, a marvelous modern innovation.

    As for the actual guns... meh, I say, for the United States. They have such loose gun laws, it dosn't really matter who gets their hands on what. I'd hate these things to end up in Australia though. We probably might hear news about these things blowing up or simply falling apart in people's hands.

    Simply, you can't print reliability.

    It's kind of a scary prospect, sure... but can't people still just as easily build their own DIY guns out of other materials anyway if they really wanted to? And probably using things that are far more easy to come by than a 3D printer.

      Exactly. In the 50s gangs in the US made "zip" guns from telescopic car radio antennae. And let's be honest, a lathe is probably more affordable than a 3D printer and will allow you to make a proper shooter.

        Lathes are expensive - what about a drill? Provided you keep the barrel short, of course.

        How does ABS plastic compare to [for example] a block of hard wood like oak?

      Yes and no. Average joe theoretically would have to get the parts, make the item, cut the parts down to size etc etc, a laborious job, this just involves pressing a button.

    But does it work with Time Crisis? :)

    Bullets can be obtained far too easily these days. You can just go to the gun range, buy 100 bullets to use there and put a couple in your pocket. A plastic printed barrel that lasts one shot is enough for it to be useful at point blank range.
    Keep in mind that shootings still occur with guns that are supposely "impossible" to obtain.
    Nothing can stop this.

    I want the #HTCOne for its: Design

    This doesn't scare me. What really freaks me out is the day when pop up ads can automatically print things to you, i.e. "grow your penis size" ads with actual large penises.

    I want the #HTCOne for its: Design

    It looks like a toy though, I don't think anyone would realize its true and very serious intent. Not even a child, picking it up and playing with it.

    I want the #HTCOne for its: BlinkFeed

    Just great.
    No more of this until I have my own 3d printer.
    Don't want them getting banned before I get to mess around with one.

    I want the #HTCOne for its: BlinkFeed

    Where do you put the wimote ?

    I want the #HTCOne for its: Design

    Personally, I do not understand the attraction of being able to print your own gun. Given the relative ease at which you can acquire a proper gun in the States, it does not sound like too many people would be clamouring for it.

    I want the #HTCOne for its: Design

    I hope that the media doesn't sentimentalize 3D printers as Gun dispensers. Because that misses the main benefit. 3D printing allows the consumer to turns objects into bits of information.

    If for example, I have an object and want to pass it to you. You and me both can't have the object. However with 3D printers objects become data. I can transfer the object as information.

    What this means for the future is that manufacturing costs will decrease which is part of a historical trend. Like any markets which have touched the information revolution the results are more and different products and increased consumer power, ex. Gizmodo. Which for my optimistic mind, could lead us to a freer society.

    I want the #HTCOne for its: Design

    Last edited 06/05/13 12:07 pm

    Printing out your own guns. That's scary. I wouldn't wanna fire it.

    What about a 3D printer that can print a 3D printer, even scarier. Machines making machines.

    I want the #HTCOne for its: Design

    In a time when Gun Violence should be getting cracked down on they have basically given anyone with a bit of money the capability to make and use a weapon capable of killing someone without being screened or obtaining a licence.

    While I can appreciate the technological innovation behind it, releasing the designs for anyone to make it is just stupid.

    I want the #HTCOne for its: Design

    Theoretically interesting with the stress limitations of 3D printed plastics. But anyone trying it in Australia will be looking at a hefty sentence just for printing the parts I'd expect.

    I want the #HTCOne for its: Screen

    hmm, untraceable guns that you can make at home.... scary stuff

    I want the #HTCOne for its: Design

    I don't think there's a direct personal advantage in printing a gun versus making or purchasing a traditional one. Printed guns aren't even proven technology, and are extremely impractical devices from my experience. But there is a symbolic advantage to the individual in being at least capable of printing one.

    I want the #HTCOne for its: Design

    I really don't think being able to print your own gun is a big deal. I think all
    the articles going around are just fear mongering.

    It is possible to make a bunch of other weapons with a 3D printer that would be
    easier to make. For example a sharp stabbing object, which would need zero metal
    parts and be completely undetectable by a metal detector.
    (As a side note, surely that gun also requires a spring? and if a magazine were
    made to go with it that would also contain metal springs.)

    Sure you would have to get closer with something like that, but if you wanted to
    have range you would not want to use the plastic gun either. It would not be
    reliably accurate at distance and if you only have one shot you can't afford to

    It is also very easy for people to get hold of real guns if they want to.
    Even here in Australia with our gun laws (gun laws I'm certainly not against)
    if someone wants to get a gun they can get a gun, and the guns they can get will
    shoot more bullets, faster, further, and more accurate.

    It is also possible to make weapons out of so many things readily available in
    your home, or even to use things off the shelf, like a baseball bat or knife.

    Then you have flame/explosion type weapons that can be made with items available
    in the supermarket, which is probably not a high priority place for
    government agencies to monitor.

    I don't see 3D printers being outlawed because of this. I just can't see it
    making a difference to government agencies (not to say everything they do makes
    sense). If they really wanted I'm sure they could integrate some sort of
    "signature" of sorts that means each 3D printer makes objects that have some
    distinctive markers such that a crime lab could link a machine to a printed
    It is possibly already possible to link devices with objects in such a manner.

    In the end, if someone wants a weapon to do evil with, and it's pre-planned, I'm
    sure there are easier and cheaper ways to get it than buying an expensive
    printer and waiting for hours to make something.

    If someone doesn't want a weapon to do evil with, they aren't suddenly going to
    change just because they can now print their own weapon.

    And for those spur of the moment crimes it would just be too inconvenient.
    It would more likely be in the lounge room with the candle stick. :)

    I want the #HTCOne for its: Design

    What a joke.. Anyone can make a shogun from a piece of water pipe from the hardware store, an threaded cap and a staple gun modified to strike the primer. a crappy piece of wood for a stock and BOOM. Plus there are hundreds of other ways to make guns, bombs, flamethrowers, dart guns etc from common items with very little skill. This is nothing new. The only thing that is dangerous is irresponsible or selfish people that would use such things for evil. The only real weapon is the mind but governments seem intent on further destroying morals and dumbing people down.

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