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Machine Design

The 3D Printing of Gun Components

Solid Concepts Inc.,

During his career, gun aficionado Larry Baucom has made replacement parts as well as prototypes for almost every component in the AK-47 rifle. A recent job had him creating new outside stock grips for the rifle.

“I needed prototypes for variations of the grips,” he says. “The grips come in two parts, uppers and lowers. One set of lowers was to look like the standard component, but the other set was to include a flashlight holder,” he says.

After creating the design in CAD, Baucom uploaded STL files to the Web site for overnight delivery. “I just used the quick quote section and within 30 sec of downloading the files, I had a quote. Parts made using selective-laser sintering shipped the next day,” he says.

Selective-laser sintering builds 3D parts with a laser that fuses a powdered material into a solid, layer by layer. Layers can be as thin as 0.00063 in. Components come off the machine as an off-white nylon, but can be painted after minimal preparation.

Baucom prototyped stock grips to test for form, fit, and function. In addition, he stained the material black. He got realistic-looking parts with no need for sanding or prep work.

“The best part of the design was getting parts quickly to see and feel what had been only images on a computer screen.”

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