Shot Heard 'Round The 3D Printing World, A Bullet Designed For Printed Guns

3D printing has caught on in a way that few really expected. What began as a niche hobby for technology lovers has spilled over into the mainstream, with 3D printers now available for under $1,000 and finding shelf space at brick-and-mortar retailers. We're only starting to see the fruits of labor from those who are dreaming up what items to print with plastic, but one hot-button issue that has arisen is 3D-printed firearms.

It was only a matter of time before someone realized that a printer could produce a pistol, but early prints have proven to be of little threat. Why? Because traditional ammunition essentially destroys the printed firearm after a single shot, plus, misfires are common. In other words, the physics of the operation make it dangerous to be on the firing side, too. By and large, that's why you haven't seen an uproar of attention around 3D weapons -- they're just entirely too impractical to be worried about.

That could change, however, as a crafter from Pennsylvania has revealed a handmade bullet that effectively wraps the shot in a barrel that will absorb the impact. That transfers the explosive energy from hitting the 3D chassis of the weapon to the bullet itself, and in his testing, he's able to fire and fire even the cheapest 3D gun without breaking it. As of now, the .314 Atlas ammunition is tough to build. It takes him an hour per bullet, though the cost of materials is under $1 each. It's completely legal to craft your own ammunition in the U.S., though it requires a license to sell (which he isn't doing at the moment).

What this proves is that cheap 3D-printed pistols now have ammunition that won't damage the gun itself. So, if you're able to fork over a few hundred dollars to have a gun printed, and you're crafty enough to build your own bullets, you could generate a weapon that won't break upon use. It's perhaps a scary proposition, but it's impressive from an innovation standpoint all the same.