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posted by CoolHand on Tuesday October 03 2017, @04:08PM   Printer-friendly
from the gotta-have-guns dept.

The Ghost Gunner has been updated to allow the CNC milling of a much more popular and accessible form of firearm: a handgun:

For the past five years, Cody Wilson has applied every possible advance in digital manufacturing technology to the mission of undermining government attempts at gun control. First he created the world's first 3-D printed gun, a deadly plastic weapon anyone could print at home with a download and a few clicks. Then he started selling a computer-controlled milling machine designed to let anyone automatically carve out the body of an untraceable AR-15 from a semifinished chunk of aluminum, upgrading his provocations from plastic to metal. Now his latest advance in home firearm fabrication allows anyone to make an object designed to defy the most basic essence of gun control: A concealable, untraceable, and entirely unregulated metal handgun.

On Sunday, Wilson's gun rights advocacy group, Defense Distributed, announced a new release of software for his computer-controlled milling machine known as the Ghost Gunner. The new code allows the 1-foot-cubed tabletop machine—which uses a spinning bit to carve three-dimensional shapes with minute precision—to not only produce untraceable bodies of AR-15s but to carve out the aluminum frame of an M1911 handgun, the popular class of semiautomatic pistols that includes the Colt 45 and similar weapons. Wilson says he plans to follow up soon with software for producing regulation-free Glocks and other handgun models to follow.

Wilson's goal now, he says, is to do for small arms what Defense Distributed did for AR-15s when it first released the $1,500 Ghost Gunner milling machine exactly three years ago to the day: Give people the ability to make a lethal weapon at home with no regulation whatsoever.

M1911 pistol.

This story came out before the mass shooting in Las Vegas, on the third anniversary of the initial release of the Ghost Gunner, just in case you were wondering.

Also at Ars Technica:

"It's a certain type of person who builds and enjoys an AR-15—that's a lot of gun, and most people don't feel the need to have a big ol' battle rifle," Wilson says. "But we believe lots of people are interested in the conversation about an untraceable, concealable handgun. It's been on the roadmap the whole time for this project. It's just always been a question of how we get there, and it ended up being very, very difficult—kinda like the brass ring of the project, if you will."

Previously: FedEx Refuses to Ship Defense Distributed's Ghost Gunner CNC Mill
Man Who Used CNC Mill to Manufacture AR-15 "Lowers" Sentenced to 41 Months

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  • (Score: 4, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 03 2017, @05:24PM (6 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 03 2017, @05:24PM (#576675)

    The Ghost Gunner isn't a general-purpose CNC mill. So far, it doesn't produce anything from a block of aluminum -- it only performs the last few operations to convert a nearly-finished receiver from legally "not a gun" to "gun".

    The nearly-finished blanks are commonly called "80% receivers" (google that for images, and compare to finished receivers), as the remaining work is supposedly 20% of the total machining work; however, the actual law (and its interpretation by BATF, the agency that enforces firearms laws) says nothing about percentages, and the real percentage of work remaining varies by firearm design, and by how creative the company making them has gotten in approaching completion while skirting the line that makes it legally a gun.

    Could the Ghost Gunner be programmed to machine receivers from 0% ("block of aluminum")? Almost certainly, given a firearm design that suits its capabilities. The AR-15 and 1911, however, are poor choices -- many of the machining operations likely exceed its travels or require more rigidity. Keep in mind that neither of these guns was ever designed to be milled from solid barstock, they were both made from forgings, and of the features left to be machined, some were designed for production methods other than milling (like magazine wells, which are typically produced by broaching). If I were looking for a commercially-available gun design to build in a dinky mill like the Ghost Gunner, I'd look at something like the Kel-Tec P11, which is actually produced on CNC mills, and designed for that method of production. (Other options might include some of Kel-Tec's other handguns, and knockoffs/similar designs like the SCCY, Cobra, Ruger LCP, etc.)

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  • (Score: 5, Informative) by takyon on Tuesday October 03 2017, @05:37PM (1 child)

    by takyon (881) <{takyon} {at} {}> on Tuesday October 03 2017, @05:37PM (#576687) Journal

    The Ghost Gunner isn't a general-purpose CNC mill. []

    Everything about the Ghost Gunner 2 is open source. The source code for the DDCut software can be downloaded and modified from the Ghost Gunner 2 website. Also if the user is familiar with G-Code it will open up things such as engraving, or even using the Ghost Gunner 2 for non firearms projects. This machine is much more than advertised. It is a fully functional CNC machine.

    [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 []
    • (Score: 4, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 03 2017, @06:51PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 03 2017, @06:51PM (#576728)

      Yeah, and it's great that they don't restrict things any further, but you're still stuck with the mechanical limitations of something designed around finishing 80% receivers.

      I'm a machinist, and I use general-purpose CNC mills daily. The ones we have are much bigger, but I've seen a few tabletop general-purpose mills as well, and none of them look like the Ghost Gunner. You design things one way for general purpose machining; a different way for only doing light finish operations on near-net blanks with mass-produced fixturing.

      I'll admit I've never seen a Ghost Gunner in person (I'd have bought one, except I already have access to real machines at work for personal projects), but from the pictures and videos I've seen, neither the work envelope nor the rigidity look like what I'd expect in a tabletop CNC mill. It may well be more rigid than it looks, but I'm pretty sure the work envelope is exactly what it looks like, and it's very limited because of the choice to make the enclosure serve as the machine base. It's designed for a purpose, and it's a pretty good design for that purpose, but it's just not general-purpose.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 03 2017, @08:46PM (2 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 03 2017, @08:46PM (#576767)

    Someone on Soylent news wrote this?

    which typically produced by broaching).

    This forces me to breach the question, if one is a trained machinist, what need for all this CNC trollery?
    If you know what broaching is, you probably understand "button rifling", though I prefer "cut".

    • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 03 2017, @08:56PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 03 2017, @08:56PM (#576768)

      If you're a trained and equipped machinist, the Ghost Gunner doesn't do much for you. On the other hand, if you're a trained machinist whose employer doesn't let you use shop tools for personal projects, it just might be more practical than a used bridgeport and a place to keep it.

    • (Score: 2) by Runaway1956 on Wednesday October 04 2017, @02:25AM

      by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday October 04 2017, @02:25AM (#576893) Journal

      A real machinist might have a little fun with the thing, testing it's limits, and seeing what he can get it to do. Hell, a Daytona race car driver can have a little fun with some old beater converted into a dune buggy, right? Or, experienced bikers might spend the day riding scooters with his relatives.

      Maybe there's no real "value" in any of that, but sometimes it's fun to tinker.

      We've finally beat Medicare! - Houseplant in Chief
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 03 2017, @10:23PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 03 2017, @10:23PM (#576818)

    Using a near-net process makes more sense to me. It's good enough for Boeing aircraft parts.

    The first step is to make a crude part with excess material. The second step is to machine it down to what you want. I think Boeing's motivation was to reduce metal waste, but it also lets you take advantage of 3D printing's ability to create interior cavities while still having some of the surfaces be nicely machined.

    An affordable way to create the near-net part would be a lost-wax process, or rather lost-plastic. You 3D print, coat with a clay/ceramic slurry, bury in fine sand, cook out the plastic, pour in molten metal, let cool, then clean off the crud. Another way, as used by Boeing, is to 3D print with wire.

    The resulting near-net part is nearly what you need, but with rough surfaces. Grind some of those down (only the ones that matter) to have a completed part.