The Solid Concepts manufactured 3D printed metal pistol.
The Solid Concepts manufactured 3D printed metal pistol.

A Californian company has posted a video online showing the first 3D printed metal gun successfully firing live rounds.

Comprising about 30 components made of materials including stainless steel, the gun has been manufactured by engineering firm Solid Concepts.

A blog posted on the company website reads: "It functions beautifully. Our resident gun expert has fired 50 successful rounds and hit a few bull's eyes at over 30 yards (metres)."

The company said that the tests showed 3D printers could be put to numerous specialised uses.

"We weren't trying to figure out a cheaper, easier, better way to make a gun. That wasn't the point at all. What we were trying to do is dispel the commonly held notion that DMLS parts are not strong enough or accurate enough for real-world applications," said Phillip Conner, DMLS project manager for Solid Concepts.

The industrial DMLS process has previously been used by the aerospace industry and to make bespoke surgical implants.

However, the company's president warned that the specialised equipment needed would make the classic Browning 1911 modelled handgun too expensive to be manufactured by most people in their homes.

Vice President Kent Firestone said: "This isn't about desktop printers ... the industrial printer we used costs more than my college tuition and I went to a private university."

He said that the firm was the only 3D printing firm to have been issued with a Federal Firearms License.

After the weapon was successfully tested, the company announced: "Now, if a qualifying customer needs a unique gun part in five days, we can deliver.

"We have the right materials, and the right engineers who know how to best programme and maintain these machines, to make 3D printing accurate, powerful and here to stay."

Though the gun is the first 3D printed firearm to be made out of metal, other guns have been created using the technology but malfunctioned after the first couple of shots.

Earlier this year, Defense Distributed released computer files showing how to make a single shot Liberator pistol using a 3D printer.

The files were downloaded 100,000 times before the US State Department ordered the company to take them down. By then though, they had been widely distributed on file sharing websites.