Affordable 3D Printers Capable of Working with Metal on the Horizon

The march of technology cannot be stopped. When Solid Concepts unveiled their metal 3D printed guns people on both sides of the aisle agreed that the technology to print those firearms was cost prohibitive. As it turns out technology marches very quickly and we’re on the horizon of affordable 3D printers capable of working with metals:

So far affordable 3D printing has been more about using polymers. Yet we all know that the ‘real thing’ must be made of metal. But the price of 3D metal printers has been the major stumbling block towards making the use of this truly 21st century technology an everyday routine. That is why only wealthy scientific organizations, such as NASA, or the military can afford metal 3D printers that cost well over $500,000.

Now Professor Joshua Pearce and his team of 3D apostles from Michigan Technological University are proclaiming the era of Open Access 3D Printing, having published their “A Low-Cost, Open-Source Metal 3-D Printer,” article in the journal, IEEE Access. Practically anyone who is interested is now free to print objects and make a 3D metal printer of their own.

The team admits that this is only a beginning. The printer is quite basic, but it does print complex geometric objects, putting down thin layers of steel with its kit worth $1,500. The most important components are a small commercial MIG welder and an open-source microcontroller.

At this rate we’ll probably see a firearm printed with metal on an affordable 3D printer sometime next year. After that we can put the entire gun control debate to bed. Controlling easily reproducible goods is possible no matter how large or powerful the state is.