Oct 9, 2014

Ghost Gunner is a desktop weapon making CNC that will raise a lot of controversy and fear mongering

Defense Distributed know for their work on 3d printed guns released the Ghost Gunner. It is a small simplified desktop CNC machine that can finish a specific type of metal gun receiver. The controversy is that the receiver is the only gun part that is tracked in USA. Other parts to finish the complete gun one can purchase freely in the USA. Media is already  hyping this news as "machine that is producing METAL guns untraceable by law enforcement". So few things to consider before panicking:

  1. Everything this machine does can be made by hand easily with simple power tools
  2. The machine development is closely linked to USA law and gun part market, since other countries have different definitions of what a traceable gun part is.
  3. A change in the law, for example: making gun barrels traceable also can make it completely obsolete. Granted, someone can then develop open source gun barrel maker (which is much more complex then this CNC) ... even so, most of countries have much stricter gun laws then USA
  4. CNC machines that can perform all this functions are available on the market for decades with slightly higher prices (which will drop in the future anyway)    

It will be interesting to watch how this technology develops in the future and how will the lawmakers and media react to it. It will be also interesting to see how will the usage scenarios develop.
This machine makes only one thing now from semi-finished aluminum object, but it looks like it could be programmed to make other designs so DIY gunsmithing ecosystem could emerge.

Ghost Gunner technical specifications:
  • Machinable dimensions: 175 x 75 x 60mm (~6.75 x 2.95 x 2.35") 
  • Maximum part dimensions: 230 x 90 x 100mm (~9.05 x 3.50 x 3.90") 
  • Overall footprint: 330 x 280mm (~13 x 11") 
  • Weight: 20kg (~45 pounds) 
  • Spindle Speed: 10,000+ RPM (Final Value TBD) 
  • Requirements: Windows 7 or higher. Mac version TBD.
  • Price: in 1199 USD range


About Ghost Gunner from their page:
Ghost Gunner is a non-profit open source hardware effort by Defense Distributed. Ghost Gunner builds on the open source community's existing hard work, including the gshield 3 axis motion hardware, the grbl g-code parser and motion controller, and the legendary Arduino microcontroller. All GhostGunner schematics and design files will be published into the public domain. Defense Distributed decided to build our own machine from the ground up. We found existing CNC machines too expensive, too DIY, or too inaccurate to manufacture firearms for the casual user. By miniaturizing the build envelope to just large enough to mill common firearm receivers, we were able to improve rigidity, reduce material cost and simultaneously relax some design limits, allowing us to sell an inexpensive machine with more than enough accuracy to manufacture firearms.

Ghost Gunner has undergone several design revisions to reduce machine chatter, backlash, and jitter, all with the goal of keeping total design cost low. Rather than using plastic, wood, or even an aluminum frame, Ghost Gunner is constructed with maximally rigid plasma-cut A36 steel and 304 stainless steel. In addition, the machine part count is greatly reduced compared to a traditional CNC, which both increases rigidity and further decreases cost. The end result is a small, cheap, and simple machine that exceeds most consumer-priced CNC machine specifications.

Ghost Gunner is a miniature CNC machine designed to automatically manufacture publicy created designs with nearly zero user interaction. No prior CNC knowledge or experience is required to manufacture from design files. Defense Distributed's first design is the venerable AR-15 lower receiver. Ghost Gunner automatically finds and aligns your 80% lower receiver to the machine, with simple installation instructions, point and click software and all required tools. Just follow a few simple instructions to mount your 80% lower receiver, tighten a couple screws (with simple tools we provide), and on day one, Ghost Gunner can help you legally manufacture unserialized firearms in the comfort of your own home.

As shipped, Ghost Gunner can manufacture any mil-spec 80% AR-15 lower receiver that already has the rear take down well milled out. Lowers with non-mil-spec trigger guards that are otherwise mil-spec are also compatible.
Ghost Gunner is capable of manufacturing more than just firearm receivers. With Defense Distributed's open source Physibles Development SDK (pDev), designers can distribute files via our '.dd' file format, which contains all installation and assembly instructions, any required jig files to hold the part in place (that users can print with a 3D printer), and all machine definitions and code to physically manufacture a particular design.
To a casual user, the .dd file is a one-stop solution to manufacturing any aluminum physible that the public can design to fit into the build envelope. Defense Distributed will be developing in and supporting this format, and we are happy to publish your own innovations and contributions.

Here is more detailed analysis by Firearm blog if you are interested in guns:

Rifle receiver made by Ghost Gunner, source: ghostgunner.net

Update (24.2.2015.):

FedEx refuses to ship and deliver Ghost Gunner and they claim it is not regulated by law: