Archive for category DIY

Technology: The World’s First 3D Printed Metal Gun, By Solid Concepts

Well, it’s nice to be back home and I plan on doing some catching up with the blog. So expect a few older stories to pop up mixed with the new. And my first post is about 3D printed weapons.

The area of 3D printed weapons is of interest to me for several reasons. First, it would be a disruptive technology that would take the construction of weapons to a new level of production and innovation.  To be able to dream it up, write up the program for it, and print it out at your local 3D printing shop or at your home printing shop is taking hobby gun manufacturing to the next level. Gun manufacturers take note…

The second reason why this is interesting to me is the legal aspects.  Today’s laws throughout the world have not caught up with the advent of 3D printed weapons.  This of course will create all sorts of controversy and debate, but until the laws do catch up, lots of folks will be experimenting and taking advantage of the concept. Just check out this quote by Solid Concepts:

“We’re proving this is possible, the technology is at a place now where we can manufacture a gun with 3D Metal Printing,” says Kent Firestone, Vice President of Additive Manufacturing at Solid Concepts. “And we’re doing this legally. In fact, as far as we know, we’re the only 3D Printing Service Provider with a Federal Firearms License (FFL). Now, if a qualifying customer needs a unique gun part in five days, we can deliver.”

The third reason why this interests me is how this would impact the global arms industry?  Will revolutions of the future be fought with printed AK-47’s or whatever weapon systems needed? Just look at Syria and the massive DIY effort there to arm themselves?

Will private military and security companies deploy with 3D printing plants and print weapons for contracts, or offer printed weapons to other companies in war zones as a means of fulfilling contracts? Or print out weapons for countries that are raising an army, and having a difficult time obtaining weapons due to embargoes or blockades.

Worse yet, terrorists and criminals will use this technology to create weapons as needed. Weapons with no history or serial numbers to trace, and made cheaply. In the future, forensics will be about figuring out what machine was used to make the things.

And will the arms industry be challenged by this disruptive technology and lash out, or embrace it and try to find where it fits into the whole thing. Who knows and there are many implications that come with this developing technology…. –Matt


3D Printed Metal 1911 Pistol


World’s First 3D Printed Metal Gun Manufactured by Solid Concepts
November 8, 2013
Solid Concepts, a world leader in 3D Printing services, manufactures the world’s first 3D Printed Metal Gun.
Austin, TX – Solid Concepts, one of the world leaders in 3D Printing services, has manufactured the world’s first 3D Printed Metal Gun using a laser sintering process and powdered metals. The gun, a 1911 classic design, functions beautifully and has already handled 50 rounds of successful firing. It is composed of 33 17-4 Stainless Steel and Inconel 625 components, and decked with a Selective Laser Sintered (SLS) carbon-fiber filled nylon hand grip. The successful production and functionality of the 1911 3D Printed metal gun proves the viability of 3D Printing for commercial applications.
“We’re proving this is possible, the technology is at a place now where we can manufacture a gun with 3D Metal Printing,” says Kent Firestone, Vice President of Additive Manufacturing at Solid Concepts. “And we’re doing this legally. In fact, as far as we know, we’re the only 3D Printing Service Provider with a Federal Firearms License (FFL). Now, if a qualifying customer needs a unique gun part in five days, we can deliver.”
The metal laser sintering process Solid Concepts used to manufacture the 30+ gun components is one of the most accurate additive manufacturing processes available, and more than accurate enough to build the interchangeable and interfacing parts within the 1911 series gun. The gun proves the tight tolerances laser sintering can meet. Plus, 3D Printed Metal has less porosity issues than an investment cast part and better complexities than a machined part. The 3D Printed gun barrel sees chamber pressures above 20,000 psi every time it is fired. Solid Concepts chose to build the 1911 because the design is public domain.
“The whole concept of using a laser sintering process to 3D Print a metal gun revolves around proving the reliability, accuracy and usability of metal 3D Printing as functional prototypes and end use products,” says Firestone. “It’s a common misconception that 3D Printing isn’t accurate or strong enough, and we’re working to change people’s perspective.”
The 3D Printed metal gun proves that 3D Printing isn’t just making trinkets and Yoda heads. The gun manufactured by Solid Concepts debunks the idea that 3D Printing isn’t a viable solution or isn’t ready for mainstream manufacturing. With the right materials and a company that knows how to best program and maintain their machines, 3D printing is accurate, powerful and here to stay.

About Solid Concepts
Solid Concepts provides rapid prototyping and custom manufacturing services, with capabilities in PolyJet, Stereolithography (SLA), 3D Color Prints, Selective Laser Sintering (SLS), 3D Metal Printing, Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM), CNC models and patterns, Composites, and QuantumCast™ advanced cast urethanes. Capabilities in tooling and injection molding make Solid Concepts a single source for product development and production efforts from conception to market. Visit to find your solution.
Link here.

Blog link here.

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DIY: Starting Up A Business–10 Things To Ask Before Pursuing A US Government Contract

Over the years, folks that have small companies or wanted to start companies, have asked how you get government contracts. Specifically overseas government contracts in the war zones.

Well, to be honest, I am not at all an expert on this side of the business. I do not own a security company, nor have I ever pursued government contracts. I am a security contractor that has been hired either as an employee or as an independent contractor, by companies that have already won government contracts overseas in the war zones. But I have never contracted with the government directly.

With that said, I am always willing to share what little knowledge I have on the subject of government contracting. So when I find cool articles like this, I like to share them because they are educational to me–but also to the community as a whole. Especially to those interested in getting into the game. Plus folks can add to it in the comments, to make this more tailored to overseas stuff.

The deal I would like to add to this post is that in order to get started, you can get all sorts of great information for free by scheduling an appointment at your local Small Business Administration office. Call them up, tell them you want to get into government contracting, and they will connect you with a government contracting mentor/specialist. Someone that is already established and is willing to mentor you on what you need to do.

You can also do this on your own by just contacting a contracting specialist with a company, and asking them what they know. Become a student of government contracting, and seek out as many sources of current information as you can about the process. Talk it up with those that are in the game and have actually won contracts for companies, and copy what they do.

Another idea is to just pay for the services of a firm or firms that specializes in getting you started. The article below mentioned writing proposals and how important that is to getting a contract, or using the services of a Insurance Broker to find the right insurance for your company. If you do a search on Google for ‘government contracts’, you will see companies in the paid for ads highlighted in yellow at the top of the search page, whom specialize in getting you started. Like with anything in life, there are some things you can do yourself, and there are other things that are just smarter and more cost effective to pay someone else to do.

I cannot comment on who is the best at this, and it will require you to do some shopping around as to whom to go with. But you can pay someone to get you started, and especially with all of the paper work required. Also, if you live in a state that is not exactly close to the contracting world back east, then these firms might be the ticket to get you in the game.

As for my international readers, obviously this post is directed at my US readers. But for those companies that have US offices and are able to use local US surrogates to get into this game, then I am sure there are a few more layers of bureaucracy and regulation to go through. If anyone has information on that process, I am all ears. I also imagine a good contracting specific lawyer would be handy for that.

Anyways, check it out below and for you experts/contracting officers or CEOs that know the process intimately, definitely speak up if you have some tips. The WBJ will be doing future posts on how to choose a public relations officer and commercial insurance, and a big hat tip to them for putting this out there. –Matt


10 things to ask before Pursuing a government contract
Washington Business Journal
Friday, October 5, 2012
We asked several experts what new entrepreneurs should think about when pursuing a government contract. Next up in our biweekly manual of sorts for startup businesses: how to choose a public relations firm and commercial insurance broker.
1. What types of contracts are there? Types of government contracts include fixed-price contracts, which generally provide a firm price for the work, and cost-reimbursement contracts, which provide payment for allowable incurred costs. Other types are incentive contracts, time-and-materials contracts and sealed bidding contracts. Research them to see what effect each would have on your company’s finances.
2. Will you look at my past performance? You must be an expert in the area related to the contract you are pursuing. If you want to be a government technology contractor, for instance, you should be able to show proof that you excel in your technology through previous contracts and work. In recent years, governments have been putting more emphasis on a company’s past contract performance when selecting contractors.
3. What are the contract requirements? Read the solicitation thoroughly and make sure you can fulfill the requirements. For example, you might be required to sustain your business financially until the contract expires, maintain Applicant Flow Logs, which record various details about your job applicants and hires, and send annual letters to recruitment sources.

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DIY: Defense Distributed And The Democratization Of Weapons Manufacturing

Check this out. I first heard about Defense Distributed from Danger Room and this group is totally dedicated to the concept of democratized weapons manufacturing. This goes along with my prior posts about the concept of Opensource Military Hardware.

This concept is also a threat to the major weapons manufacturers out there–hence why the company they leased their 3D printer from ultimately chose to take it back. Who knows, and both sides of this issue are presented in the posts at Danger Room.

The other thing that perked me up was the use of crowd funding in order to get this going. They used Indiegogo as a funding tool for this project in order to raise the $20,000 to get it started. Below I have posted the group’s goals and here is a link to their website. –Matt


1) Create the world’s first 100% 3D printable gun
GOAL: Develop a fully printable 3D gun
Our initial Wiki Weapon (A) design has no moving parts and relies on a separate, inserted solenoid to fire. We begin with this design to learn from the ABS material itself, but this is a method of trial and error. At $5 per cubic inch, we are at the point where we need outside funds to produce and complete a proof gun. The result of the lessons we learn from WikiWep A will instruct the design and development of Wiki Weapon B, a fully-printable gun comprised of near 100% printable parts.
2) Adapt the design down to cheaper 3D printers
Goal: Adapt the design so it can be printed on less expensive 3D printers-without compromising safety.
These guns will be almost completely plastic, so melting and failing in your hand will be a concern. Only after testing a few dozen designs to failure will we discover the right limitations to be comfortable rating a WikiWep as safe for one use. Basically we need to break some guns. This is the seed money for the second phase of development. We want to minimize negative media about the safety concerns of untested firearms and the inevitable suggestions that governments should protect us from ourselves.
3) Become The Web’s Printable Gun Wiki Redoubt
Goal: Further embrace the “Wiki” root of the project and establish a printable gunsmithing commons.
Instead of hacking off central planners directly, why not ignore them into irrelevance? In response to our project’s feedback and instincts, we open up this site to the world to share and participate in the creation and distribution of knowledge relevant to advancing 3D printable weapons.

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Cool Stuff: Surviving An Active Shooter Event Video Goes Viral

A big hat tip to Matt for sending me this video. This thing was actually made before the Aurora Colorado shooting, so it’s timing was not planned. Either way, it is some great information for the public. (City of Houston put it together)

Now of course my readership tends to be more security related, but I also have a significant readership that is not. Most importantly though is that the security related readership here can take this video and spread it around in their networks. They can actually show a client this video, and then they can have a discussion about it.

The other point that needs to be made is that these active shooter incidents happen very fast. Lots of damage and killing happens within a very short period of time, and law enforcement is often not able to respond fast enough because of this factor. Logic says that the only thing that is going to save the people caught in the attack, are the people themselves. Videos like this will give people the kind of knowledge they need to survive such an incident, or at least give them better odds at survival.

We also need to emphasize the correct mindsets to have.  You would hope that there would be a few folks in a crowd that will step up and take out the shooter. But sometimes that is not the case, and because these incidents are so fast and lethal, that some folks are not able to think through the problem fast enough to win. The Run Hide Fight concept is a good one, because it addresses the diversity of a crowd and each person’s ‘fight or flight’ response. It is an easy set of decisions to keep in mind, with Running being the top.

It is also smart to keep people moving so a shooter has a harder time killing them. If people stop and curl up on the ground in a ball, thinking that will protect them, they are wrong. If people are moving, they are a harder target. Just think of this one–in the 2008 Mumbai attack in India, those terrorists used rifles to kill most of their victims. (164 killed, 308 wounded) In this Aurora killing, a rifle was used to do most of the killing. To hit a moving target is much harder than hitting a stationary target, so it needs to be emphasized that people need to get moving.

So running is a good option–or basically keep moving to escape and survive. If there is no escape, then hiding (hopefully within some cover) or fighting are your next best options. (this is for those who are not security folks). If you are a sheepdog type (military, veterans, police, security contractor, empowered citizen, etc.) then stop that shooter!! End it by any means necessary and solve the problem immediately.

Pretty cool and I certainly hope it saves some lives. It is also an excellent training tool that companies and security professionals can pass around and talk about. Knowledge is power, and stuff like this empowers the people. –Matt

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Syria: DIY Armored Trucks–The T-HOMS75

Now this thing is an interesting creation and I will tell you why. It is wedge shaped, which indicates to me that it could be used for barrier busting. Like knocking down sandbags/walls and getting in some quick shots with the mounted DShK. Then they pull away so they can reload and maybe attack from another point.

The wedge shape is also great for deflecting incoming small arms fire, or maybe even some cannon fire from the front. So on the streets of Homs where every inch of territory is being fought over with a vengeance, something like this was probably purpose built to deal with an issue the rebels identified.

Another cool use for such a vehicle is creating mouse holes in walls. So if you are able to punch a hole in a wall, then your assault team can run into those breaches and either make an escape or obtain a tactical advantage in a fight. They can also rescue downed rebels in a fight if they had to.

Who knows, but it definitely looks like they are taking some notes from the Libyans in their war and the Narco Tanks in Mexico. They probably checked out all of the ‘Mad Max’ designs back in the day in Iraq as well.  Interesting DIY Armor and if anyone has anything to add about this vehicle, I would be interested to hear what you got. –Matt



….Something much weird of the anti-aircraft pick up was recently spotted in Homs, Syria. It’s a sort-of improvised Suzuki pickup converted into armored vehicle capable to open its way through barriers and sand bags, equipped with a Doshka machine gun.

Dubbed T-HOMS75 by the Zaman Al Wasl reporter that took the first pictures of it, the vehicle is operated by a crew three people (driver, gunner and assistant): the gunner stands behind the drivers cabin with the gun placed on top of it.

It is capable of a maximum speed of 80 km/h (due to the added weight) and gives protection against light and medium machine guns, allowing to move in places guarded by snipers.

From the Aviationist.

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Games: Peter Singer Interview About ‘Call Of Duty’ And The Future Of Warfare

This is cool. Foreign Policy did an interview with Peter Singer about his consulting on the newest Call of Duty Black Ops game and I wanted to comment on it. Apparently this game has some pretty interesting input as to what future warfare will look like. The theme of the game is what if we ‘lose the keys’? Or hackers steal UAV’s from countries, and use them for whatever purpose. You as the player has to deal with that world. (no word yet if Cyber Lance is a concept being used in the game, but if it has guns, I am sure it has some kind of theme that is similar)

Definitely read this interview below and then watch the documentary that they put together. I liked this quote in the interview and it deserves some mention.

FP: How about the impact of these games on the public’s perception of warfare?
PS: Again, they are an entertainment platform. But you’ll notice that in the TV commercial I was in, everything that we were exploring a year ago as we were building out the game — well, news kept popping that confirmed the trends that we were identifying as important. Those who play the game will learn about trends and issues that are real and that are familiar to those in the defense base, but are not known widely: the criticality of rare-earth elements, the moving of more systems into the AI and robotic space. But when people point to video games, I point to something bigger in the perception of war: the end of the draft. Millions of kids are playing this game, but each year the U.S. Army has to persuade a little over 70,000 to join. During World War II, the U.S. public bought $185 billion in war bonds. During the last 10 years, we bought $0 in war bonds and gave the top 4 percent a tax break. If you want to talk about connections between the public and war, there are bigger things going on than video games.

That is quite the thing to get 70,000 young men and women to volunteer every year to join the military.  I remember during the peek of Iraq, recruiting was pretty tough and the military was doing everything they could to get kids to join. The military also depended upon contractors to fill in the blanks, and we did.  They also used stop loss and even called back some folks just to keep the all volunteer force staffed.

But all in all, it is pretty damn impressive that they are still able to get folks to volunteer. If video games are able to motivate kids to think about a career in the military, or influence tomorrow’s leaders in the military, then that is a big asset to our armed forces. Especially since these games help individuals to safely explore tactics and strategies of the battlefield, and help to feed the imagination, that then leads to innovations on how we do business. Life imitates art as they say.

Although games will never replace the blood, sweat and tears of real warfare. And anyone thinking that life in a combat zone is anything like a video game, will be very much in the wrong. They will quickly readjust to it’s boring, bitter and then momentarily frightening and extremely brutal realities. Nothing new there. Oddly though, soldiers in combat zones love to play these types of games….

But, even generals and soldiers play simulated war games, just to see how all of the pieces of the military are used for various scenarios. So it helps to see what that is, through the simple tools like a sand table all the way up to video games/red teams.

The final question in this interview is a good one too.

FP: The concept of Black Ops II seems ironic. Our own high-tech weapons are turned against us. Is this a cautionary tale?
PS: One of the changes in the real world is what I call “battle-zone persuasion.” The goal is not to blow up the enemy tank, but jam it, co-opt it, persuade it to do something that its owner doesn’t want it to do. This is new in war. You couldn’t persuade a spear to do something different after its owner threw it. You couldn’t call up Tom Cruise in his F-14 and say, “Maverick, recode all MiGs as F-14s, and all F-14s as MiGs.” A couple years ago, though, the Israelis turned off all the Syrian air defenses before they struck its nuclear facility, and then came Stuxnet. We are moving toward an era of battles of persuasion, as well as the traditional kinetic side. That’s one of the things the game does. The cautionary side is to know more about this and start to build some defenses against it.

Battle zone persuasion?  Interesting. I look at pseudo-operations in the same way. Hacking mindless weapon systems is one thing, but hacking a human would be the ultimate tool of chaos and destruction on the battlefield. Then you could use that guy or team to infiltrate companies/military units/terrorists/pirates/criminal groups, or even use them to hack other mindless weapon systems. They can create chaos from within, and find/exploit all of the weaknesses. That is quite the advantage.

It also demonstrates the importance of having some kind of an elephant chisel for our weapon systems we create. To be able to destroy these things before an enemy can use them against us. But yes, we should look at what could happen if someone took the keys, and games like this can help to imagine the possibilities, and even the counter to these acts.

Peter also mentioned an interesting aspect of modern warfare that ties in with mimicry strategy. Meaning the whole opensource warfare concept (mimicry of what others are doing), where everyone learns how to build weapons based on the input of a community of weapon builders. Not only that, but I think it is important to note that an incentivization process is happening as we speak that will only fuel these weapon builders. What I am talking about is the idea of youtube, and the reward an individual gets for showing off a creation in that arena.

Specifically, I am talking about this fake quadrotor with a machine gun video, that now has over 8 million views! (that is just on his upload, and not including the uploads of his video on other sites) How many folks that have watched this video, will go back to their garage and actually try to make a real weaponized quadrotor?  And with all of the available parts and information online to build such things, then the potential for ‘building snowmobiles‘ is there.

This process happens at lightning speed as viewers observe/orient/decide/act in the construction of their weapon. They want to mimic what they see, and do one better.  Or even improve upon it, all for the attention it gets on youtube (or for winning their fight). Moore’s Law applies as well, and will further help in the mad dash to create a better mouse trap.  Not to mention the weapon companies who are into the same game of ‘build it, and show it off’ to impress potential buyers of those weapons. That is a powerful concept if you ask me, and keeping one step ahead of it is extremely difficult. Video games like this can help us imagine the potential with this stuff, so innovations can be created to counter it. The future is now, as they say….. –Matt



Since When Does Brookings Make Video Games?
Military futurist Peter Singer — and consultant for the forthcoming Call of Duty — reveals what kind of dark assumptions are baked into the next blockbuster game.
MAY 8, 2012
The Internet has been abuzz over details — and several intriguing YouTube videos — of the upcoming “Call of Duty: Black Ops II,” scheduled to hit shelves in November. A sequel to the 2010 blockbuster “Call of Duty: Black Ops,” the latest iteration of the video game continues the saga of American and Russian operatives immersed in a complex 1960s Cold War plot. But much of the sequel takes place in 2025, when the United States is confronting China and when America’s high-tech arsenal of robotic vehicles is hacked, hijacked, and turned against its makers. Although the dark plot sounds like science fiction, it is actually based on solid real-world analysis provided by defense futurist Peter Singer, author of the bestselling Wired for War. Foreign Policy spoke with Singer about his work on the game:

Foreign Policy: There have been a lot of delicious rumors about Call of Duty: Black Ops II. What can you tell us about the game?
Peter Singer: [Laughs.] I’m just going to say the things that are already out there in the media. Essentially what they have revealed is that it builds upon the last game [Call of Duty: Black Ops]. The setting is broken into two parts. Some events take place in the Cold War of the 1980s, and most of it in the 2020s in a proto-Cold War that has emerged between the U.S. and China over a series of regional tensions and resource shortages. Essentially what we have done is take certain trends that are just now emerging, certain technologies that are at their Model T Ford stage, and move them forward into likely potential futures. The same for the political side as well, playing what happens if they move forward. We identified key trends shaping the current and future battlefield. Some you will see played out in robotics. A generation ago, this was all science fiction. Today, the U.S. military has 7,000 unmanned vehicles in the air, some of them armed, and 12,000 on the ground. We have 50 countries out there beginning to use military robotics. We might see evolution in other directions of robotics, such as bigger is not always better. An example in the game is the armed tactical quadcopter. As part of the marketing for the game, we put out a viral video of one of these made real. I know a Pentagon office has started looking at it and asking, “Why can’t we have this?”

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