Texas-based Defense Distributed, founded by 25-year-old University of Texas law student Cody Wilson, has given Forbes.com images it says show the first 3D-printed handgun. The group, which is aiming for nonprofit status, claims the weapon can fire standard handgun rounds. The majority of the device, called the "Liberator," is fabricated entirely out of plastic, save for a nail used as a firing pin as well as a six-ounce piece of steel, intended to allow the gun to be detected by metal detectors.
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The many promises of 3D-printing include intricate product prototypes, one-of-a-kind jewelry, even human tissue. Now, a group has revealed a proof-of-concept of another sort: a gun.
Wilson generated headlines last year when he announced his plans to produce a 3D-printed gun. It took the group about eight months to design the Liberator.
Also known as additive manufacturing, 3D printing is a method of making a three-dimensional solid objects from a computerized model. Commonly, 3D printers lay down successive layers of plastic material to create objects of virtually any shape. The printers can also create interlocking mechanical parts, such as gears and cogs. The process is distinct from traditional machining, in which objects are whittled or sculpted down from larger blocks of material.
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