This 3-D Printed Gun Turned Skeptics Into Believers

With the right expertise, 3-D metal printing is a highly capable technology.

Steve Heller
Steve Heller
Jul 20, 2014 at 10:45AM

Stratasys (NASDAQ:SSYS) recently purchased Solid Concepts, which made quite the stir last year when it 3-D printed the world's first functional metal handgun, a 1911 .45 caliber pistol. After all, 3-D printing guns is a highly controversial issue centered on the continued proliferation of 3-D printing and what it means for gun control laws.

This handgun was made with a metal 3-D printer. Source: Solid Concepts

Fortunately, Solid Concepts wasn't trying to do anything illicit because it holds a federal firearms license, but it was trying to demonstrate to non-believers that 3-D printing is a highly capable technology. Being able to 3-D print a metal gun -- one that's fired more than 4,500 rounds to date -- shows the power of direct metal laser sintering, or DMLS, 3-D printing technology. In other words, 3-D printing a handgun was a great way for Solid Concepts to get its customers thinking about the possibilities of metal 3-D printing in direct manufacturing applications.

From a business perspective, Stratasys bought Solid Concepts because it wanted access to engineers that have the ability to push the boundaries of 3-D printing, as well as an opportunity to diversify its technology portfolio beyond the scope of the 3-D printers it markets. Because 3-D metal printing is poised to represent a greater share of manufacturing in the future, it seems that Stratasys made the right decision purchasing Solid Concepts. Additionally, Stratasys will be able to tap into Solid Concepts' existing customer base and generate leads that may lead to future sales of 3-D printers.

In the following video, 3-D printing specialist Steve Heller asks Scott McGowan, vice president of marketing at Solid Concepts, about the infamous 1911 .45 caliber handgun it produced with DMLS technology. Going forward, Stratasys investors should be pleased that it acquired Solid Concepts for a great price, after taking into account the expertise and growth prospects that came along with it.