Archive for category Technology

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 www.solidconcepts.com to find your solution.
Link here.

Blog link here.

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Cool Stuff: A Quadrotor That Can Grasp Like An Eagle Or Harvest Energy From Powerlines

These are some incredible developments in Quadrotor/UAS technology. The ability to ‘grab’ something in mid-flight or to have the device harvest energy from a power line is amazing.

For the battlefield, there are some interesting uses for a quadrotor that could grab things on the fly like an eagle. A larger robot could be used to actually grab prisoners or steal equipment from the enemy. I have talked about defeating ‘hit and run’ tactics of the enemy, and imagine being able to capitalize on such an attack by not only stunning or wounding with a Switchblade, but then snatching the combatant with a ‘Grabber’.

I could also see using something like this for resupply missions that require an exchange between parties. I need this, and you need that, so let’s use the Grabber to quickly exchange those items. Perhaps there are sensitive materials that need to get picked up quickly–well the Grabber could be the one to do that. The Grabber could be used to pick up battlefield munitions to clear an area.

What would really be wild is to use a Grabber to attack and steal other UAS’s. Like two birds attacking one another, and may the bigger more aggressive bird win. Which if you look at where all this is going, quadrotors like this and their usages will mimic what animals or insects can do.

As to harvesting energy from powerlines, the Grabber would be an excellent tool for that. Or maybe the Grabber would gather fuel for a fuel cell that it is operating from, like a bird gathering sticks for it’s nest. Lot’s of ideas there and these robots will have all sorts of ways sustaining itself in the wild.

Interesting stuff and the imagination is the only limit here. -Matt

 

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Weapons: CHAMP– The Electronics-Frying Sniper Missile

“This technology marks a new era in modern-day warfare,” said Keith Coleman, CHAMP program manager for Boeing Phantom Works. “In the near future, this technology may be used to render an enemy’s electronic and data systems useless even before the first troops or aircraft arrive,”

I first heard about this from the blog War Is Boring, and I was kind of shocked that Boeing is actually talking about this weapon. AOL Defense carried the story and linked to Boeing’s press release about this thing, which I posted below.  Now that CHAMP has been proven to work, we need to talk about this.

What is crazy about this thing, is the ability to shut down an enemy’s electronics in a very precise way. So this missile could do a fly over of a specific target area and zap every data center/electronics hub in it’s path, and effectively shut down that stuff. That is quite the capability. Goody for us, but what happens when the other side of a conflict has a similar weapon?

Equally as sobering is that this technology will be copied or stolen by others in the world, and be introduced into the battlefields of the future. That means that all of our weapon systems–GPS, data links, electronics, etc are all vulnerable if such a missile or device was able to get within range.

That last part is important, because if the weapon is currently in a cruise missile type device, then they could probably put it in all manner of delivery vehicles-both land and in the air. Hell, imagine the thing in the water or up in space–zapping electronics everywhere?

Another thing to point out is that non-state actors will be interested in such a weapon, just so they can profit from attacks on electronics or use a device like this to support some far out crazy agenda. So yes, I agree with Boeing that this is a historical occasion, and definitely something to be concerned with as the technology spreads. The future is now. -Matt

 

CHAMP – lights out
October 22, 2012
By Randy Jackson
Cruising fast over the Western Utah Desert, a lone missile makes history at the Utah Test and Training Range. The missile, known as CHAMP, or Counter-electronics High-powered Advanced Missile Project may one day change modern warfare, by defeating electronic targets with little or no collateral damage.
On Oct. 16th at 10:32 a.m. MST a Boeing Phantom Works team along with members from the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) Directed Energy Directorate team, and Raytheon Ktech, suppliers of the High Power Microwave source, huddled in a conference room at Hill Air Force Base and watched the history making test unfold on a television monitor.
CHAMP approached its first target and fired a burst of High Power Microwaves at a two story building built on the test range. Inside rows of personal computers and electrical systems were turned on to gauge the effects of the powerful radio waves.
Seconds later the PC monitors went dark and cheers erupted in the conference room. CHAMP had successfully knocked out the computer and electrical systems in the target building. Even the television cameras set up to record the test were knocked off line without collateral damage.
“This technology marks a new era in modern-day warfare,” said Keith Coleman, CHAMP program manager for Boeing Phantom Works. “In the near future, this technology may be used to render an enemy’s electronic and data systems useless even before the first troops or aircraft arrive,”
In all, seven targets were hit using CHAMP’s high power microwaves in the one-hour test that degraded and defeated the electronics inside the test buildings.
James Dodd, vice president of Advanced Boeing Military Aircraft, part of Phantom Works said there is a real need for a weapon that can defeat a target and not cause harm to people and structures.
“We know this has some capabilities and some impact, we’re really trying to engage the customer to see if there is a way we can actually get this fielded and implemented sooner than later,” Dodd said.
Coleman, who led the Boeing team in the historic test flight, says the team is currently analyzing data and telemetry from the test that many consider a big step in modern non-lethal warfare.
“Today we turned science fiction into science fact,” Coleman said.
Press release here.

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Mobile Apps: Silent Circle

Check this out. Silent Circle is a subscription service that promises to deliver a secure and encrypted communications platform. Phil Zimmermann put this concept together and he is marketing this thing for security professionals with the help of some former Navy SEALs.

What I like about this service is that companies could actually set up accounts with contractors/employees using Silent Circle, and know that the communications between all parties will be secure. From the phone calls to text messages to emails–the entire communications system will be secure and extremely difficult to hack.

Families can also be a part of a separate Silent Circle account between the contractor and their loved ones/friends. This is great because today’s enemy’s and hostile governments all have a desire to hack into the accounts of folks involved with security operations throughout the world. They monitor everything from Facebook and Twitter accounts, to emails/phone calls etc. You have to assume all of that is happening, and to have any tools to help in the battle to secure your communications is a good thing. -Matt

 

 

Silent Circle

When a Silent Circle subscriber makes a phone call, sends a text or video chats with another Silent Circle member, that transmission is secured and encrypted end-to-end from the iPhone, Android, iPad or computer on our crystal-clear secure network. Silent Mail is an elegant and encrypted email solution, however, it utilizes server side key encryption not peer-to-peer. Our Silent Phone, Silent Mail and Silent Text products also allow you to call or send/receive emails to anyone in the world – any phone number – any email address, even to those not in our secure Circle (subscribers). Our products download from the Apple App Store, Android Play Store and from our website – simple, fast, secure.
Silent Network
We Designed It, We Custom-Built It & We Own The Network
Silent Circle Network provides encrypted communication tools that leverage cutting edge and simple to use apps and software. Here’s how we do it:
• Open Source Peer-Reviewed Encryption – Our founders are the inventors of the world’s most trusted encryption protocols: PGP, ZRTP, SCimp
• Multimillion dollar custom-built high definition network
• Geographic server redundancy – Servers located in Montreal and Toronto built with scalability for continued geographic expansion (Our Switzerland Network will come online Fall 2012)
• 100% dedicated network – No sharing
• Custom-built servers, PBXs and hardware – Ensuring security integrated through design
• E-Commerce, customer service, analytics and network monitoring software all custom built and designed to ensure security
• Device-to-Device Encryption – True peer-to-peer key negotiation with every communication session. Keys are destroyed at the end of every call eliminating the possibility of retroactive compromise
• Interactive Voice Authentication – Visual and vocal encryption verification eliminating the possibility of MiTM (man in the middle) attacks and a short authentication string (SAS)
• Peer Reviewed Encryption and Hashing Algorithms
- Elliptic Curve Cryptography (P-384)
- Advanced Encryption Standard (AES-256)
- Secure Hash Algorithm (SHA-256)

Company website here.

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Phil Zimmermann’s Silent Circle Builds A Secure, Seductive Fortress Around Your Smartphone
By Neal Ungereider
October 5, 2012
The cryptography legend is teaming up with two ex-Navy SEALs to offer encrypted phone calls, video conferencing, and text messages with no learning curve whatsoever. The target market? Businesspeople and government employees traveling abroad.
In the 1990s, cryptography pioneer and Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) creator Phil Zimmermann faced federal criminal investigation. His encryption software was so strong, it was charged, there was fear it violated arms trafficking export controls.

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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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Mobile Apps: The Tactical Radio Mobile App?

This is one of those posts where I thought, why hasn’t anyone in the tactical industry or law enforcement industry developed a mobile app that can convert your smart phone into a 2 way radio? Because according to this article, private industry has already created three mobile apps that turn your phone into a basic 2 way radio.

So for this post, the idea is basic. Create a similar 2 way radio mobile app, but ‘tactify’ it. lol Get it encrypted and secure, and give it functions that would be applicable to military/police/contractor uses. Or just have basic switches on the mobile app that allow a user to customize the app to suite their needs.

The top mobile app for turning your smart phone into a basic 2 way radio according to this article below is Voxer Walkie-Talkie. If you would like to play around with it, and maybe use it for hunting or none tactical purposes, here is a link to check it out. Here it is on iTunes, and below is the description of what it does.

Description
Featured by Apple in 50+ countries
Turn your phone into a Walkie Talkie.
Don’t waste time on phone calls and voicemails.
Voxer® is a Walkie Talkie app for smartphones. Send instant Audio, Text, Photo and Location messages to one friend or a group of your friends. Your friends can listen to your message while you talk or check it out later.
-LIVE WALKIE TALKIE
-Cross Platform Messenger
-VOICE, TEXT, PHOTOS and LOCATION
-GROUP CHATS
-EVERYTHING is FREE
-No annoying advertisements
-Works over WiFi, 3G and any other data network
-Get notifications for new messages
-Create messages even offline
-Play voice messages faster
-Connect with Facebook friends on Voxer
Voxer turns your iPhone/iPad/iPod touch device into the ultimate Push To Talk (PTT) real-time Walkie Talkie.

The other thing I was thinking about with a Tactical Radio Mobile App is that companies could save money by not having to buy expensive handheld two way radios. They could just depend upon an internet connection locally or 3G/data networks, and have a team work off of that. So instead of depending upon a repeater, you are depending upon a diversified array of ‘repeaters’. Or you could have this as your back up to your pre-existing communications system.

Another angle is to create a Garmin Rhino style mobile app. Something that turns your smart phone into a basic Garmin Rhino, complete with blue force tracker style capability and two way radio functionality.

On the downside would be battery life. So along with the mobile app, you would probably have to get hardened cases with extra battery juice installed, to further extend the radio’s life and durability through a shift. Although I think the market has plenty of sources for this type of thing. I would think a power source that would give your phone enough juice to last a 12 hour shift would be acceptable. Rechargeable would be necessary as well. Pretty neat and I hope someone out there is able to take this idea and run with it. Maybe do a kickstarter for it? -Matt

 

 

Smartphone? Presto! 2-Way Radio
By DAVID POGUE
September 5, 2012
Cave drawings, smoke signals, letters, Pony Express, telegrams, phone calls, text messages. From the dawn of civilization, man has experimented with different modes of communication, each with pros and cons. Smoke signals, for example, contribute to far fewer car accidents than text messages. Text messages, on the other hand, leave much less soot.
You might think that we’ve exhausted every variation on electronic communication — text, audio, video — but you’d be wrong. A new one is quietly winning over millions of gadget fans. They’re free apps with names like Voxer, HeyTell and Zello, and they really do mess with the rules of the game.
Nobody’s settled on a good name for this communications category. But if we call them voice-texting apps, or walkie-talkie apps, you’ll get the idea.
They work on iPhones, iPads, iPod Touches, Android phones and Windows phones. You open the app, tap someone’s name, hold down the big Talk button and speak. A second after you start talking — yes, even before you’re finished — your voice bursts to life, extremely clearly, on your friend’s phone, wherever it may be in the world.
Your buddy can respond to you by pressing his own Talk button, and the conversation is under way.
Now, before you roll your eyes — “These youngsters today! Why do they need so many different ways to talk!?” — consider all the ways these apps improve on existing modes of chat.

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