3D Printed Suppressors: All of Your Questions Answered
3D printers have been on the market for a number of years now, but they’ve been viewed by most as just toys or novelties. In recent years, however, the technology involved with 3D printing has progressed by leaps and bounds.
A common misconception is that 3D printers can only produce primitive objects out of flimsy plastics. That’s simply not true; they can now create durable products out of a variety of different materials – including metal alloys and durable superpolymers. The technology has come far enough that both the automotive and aerospace industries use 3D printing to create test products.
Humans being the curious and creative creatures that we are, it should come as no surprise that people have begun adapting this technology into the firearms industry. There are already a wide variety of firearms parts and accessories made from different types of polymers, so it was a logical next step that someone starts applying the technology to the world of sound suppression.
Currently, suppressors made by 3D printing are still in their infancy. There aren’t a lot of options on the market right now, but that’s bound to change soon. As 3D printing technology continues to evolve and advance, we will no doubt see more and more suppressor options on the market, which means people will have more and more questions about them. With that in mind, we’re going to answer some of the most common questions when it comes to 3D printed suppressors.
Are 3D Printed Suppressors Legal?
The short answer is yes, 3D printed suppressors are legal. Of course, the full answer is a bit more nuanced than that because of how suppressors are viewed in the eyes of the law in the United States.
As long as you follow all local, state, and federal laws, then yes, 3D printed suppressors are legal. Whether you buy a suppressor from a dealer on a Form 4 or make one yourself on a Form 1, suppressors are all NFA-regulated items – including ones made with 3D printers.
What Do I Need to 3D Print a Silencer?
The biggest allure of 3D printing in recent years is that the cost of the printers and the user knowledge required to operate them have both dropped dramatically. That means that the average person is now capable of getting into the 3D printing game.
To make a 3D printed silencer, you really only need a couple of things:
- CAD File/Blueprint
- Whether you design the suppressor printing file yourself or you purchase or source one from the internet, you’ll need a file of some sort so that the printer knows what it will be printing.
- 3D Printer
- Obviously, you’ll also need a 3D printer. Do some homework and figure out which one of the myriad makes and models is right for you.
- Printing Medium
- Depending on your printer and what type of silencer you’ll be printing, you’ll need to select the right printing medium, which could be a polymer or a metal alloy.
- Appropriate NFA Paperwork
- Again, since silencers are regulated by the NFA, you’ll need the appropriate approved paperwork in your possession before you press print.
Will A 3D Printed Suppressor Work?
The short answer is yes, 3D printed suppressors work. Since the overall concept, manufacturing method, and materials used are all still relatively new, the longevity of 3D printed silencers is yet to be seen. However, preliminary tests on units made from metal alloys and certain types of polymers have shown that you can indeed create a working silencer with a 3D printer.
What are These Suppressors Made Of?
The technology involved with 3D printers has evolved to a point where they no longer print solely in simple plastics. They are now capable of printing more durable polymers and metal alloys, including aluminum, which has long been a material used by commercial silencer manufacturers.
What you’re trying to accomplish with the suppressor (i.e. plinking with a .22 pistol or competing with a 5.56 AR) will help determine what material you’ll need to use for the printing process. For example, we’ve seen silencers made from printed metal alloys in handgun and rifle calibers and ones made for rimfire only that are printed entirely out of durable plastic materials.
Is There a Tax for 3D Printed Silencers?
Yes, there is a tax for 3D printed silencers. The ATF doesn’t care what the silencer is made of or how it is produced. All they care about is that it is, in fact, a silencer. If that is the case, then they want their money. Period.
Whether you buy a ready-made 3D printed silencer or you print one yourself, you will have to file all of the appropriate paperwork with the ATF and pay for the $200 tax stamp for each 3D printed suppressor that you buy or make yourself.
If you decide to go the DIY route and make a 3D printed silencer on your own, it’s important to understand that you have to treat it like you would any other homemade suppressor. You will need to complete an ATF Form 1 and have the approved form in hand before you press print. Failure to do so is a felony and comes with steep fines and possible prison time.
Can 3D Printed Suppressors Fit on Any Gun?
Different suppressors are designed for different calibers and host guns. This is true for both commercially-made suppressors built out of traditional materials and ones that are made on a 3D printer with different types of polymers or metal alloys.
The adaptability of a 3D printed suppressor will all depend on the file from which it is printed. That file will determine the caliber, method of attachment, thread pitch, and more for the overall completed suppressor. You can no doubt print a silencer that is capable of shooting multiple calibers (like 9mm through a .45-caliber can) just as easily as you can print a rimfire-only suppressor. Again, it will all depend on the type of file you’re using and the medium you’ll be printing.
3D Printed Suppressors Are On the Rise
Technology has a way of snowballing, picking up speed, and growing ever larger as it rolls along. There’s no reason to think it will be any different when it comes to applying 3D printing technology to the world of suppressors. The coming years will likely see a rise in commercially-made suppressors that use 3D printing technology.
When that time comes, Silencer Central will be here to help guide you in the purchase process. It really won’t be any different than a regular purchase, so don’t worry about having to learn new ATF tricks.
Until that time comes, we’re here to help you find the right suppressor for your needs right now – without waiting on technology to catch up. If you’ve got questions, please reach out to us. Our staff has been selling silencers all across the country for more than 15 years, so we can help you complete your purchase quickly, easily, and hassle-free. Get started today!Shop Suppressors