A former Marine turned entrepreneur thinks of himself as a trailblazer in the 3D-printing industry, developing what is being called the first 3D-printed gun part made of metal.
The Michigan-based company Sintercore created a metal brake muzzle called Auxetik for AR-15 pistols. (Photo: Sintercore)
Neal Brace, went to business school at Grand Valley State University in Michigan -- after he completed service as an infantryman in 2009 -- and taught himself computerized design. From there, he developed a muzzle brake design through his company Sintercore, which he is now marketing to gun enthusiasts and law enforcement special response units.
The muzzle brake counters recoil and the upward rising of the barrel on things like AR-15 pistols as it disperses gases, but it works well with the standard rifle barrel length as well. The benefit of creating one with a 3D printer is the amount of detail that can be put into the piece.
"It has a very intricate internal geometry," the 26-year-old told TheBlaze of his muzzle brake called Auxetik (pronounced "awg-ZET-ik").
Thus far, Brace said feedback for Auxetik has been positive for those who have tested it, but many are "astounded" by the cost. The small piece retails for $300. Other muzzle brakes can retail from between $50 to $150.
The high cost at this point is due to the complexity for 3D printers to print the custom design in metal, a technology that is sure to improve though as the industry continues to grow.
Sintercore's website describes the piece as made of 100-percent Inconel superalloy, which "is as strong as steel and as corrosion resistant as titanium."
Auxetik has been called the first metallic gun part made with a 3D printer. (Photo: Sintercore)
"Enjoy the benefits of a short firearm with less of the annoying concussion: our design was specifically designed to address this concern," Sintercore states.
What makes this 3D-printed design special? The muzzle brake has linear gas vents, which Sintercore states "allow an amount of gas to meter out of the first expansion chamber and flow forward into the second expansion chamber." The vents, which the website claims cannot be as easily made through traditional manufacturing, provides increased concussion control.
Last month, GizMag explained in-depth how a semiautomatic, AR-15 rifle is transformed into a pistol and can benefit from a muzzle brake like Auxetik:
When the stock of an AR-15 is removed and there is only one grip, it is considered under US ATF (Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms) regulations to be a pistol. This allows it to be used with a short barrel, typically in the 6 to 12 inch range, whereas as a rifle the barrel must be longer than 16 inches to avoid special licensing requirements.
The AR-15 pistol modification does not result in the most practical firearm. Such a pistol has stronger recoil and muzzle flip than do the rifle versions, as you might expect from a lighter gun, the backward shift in the center of mass of the gun and the loss of stabilization from the stock. Adding a muzzle brake to direct the propellant gases emerging from the barrel upwards and backwards help to minimize these effects, and make the pistol more controllable.
Brace called his Michigan-based company a "one-man-band" at the moment. He develops the designs and hires a manufacturer who owns the 3D printing machines to create the physical product.
Watch this video showing Auxetik in action:
Brace started making Auxetik last year, ordering several different prototypes at one time. From there, he tested and refined the designs for about six months until he had the final product.
Although he just plans to start shipping out pre-orders this week and wants to focus on getting Auxetik off and running, Brace envisions his company specializing in custom parts someday.
"100 percent personalized gear to suit their individual tastes," as Brace described it. "Tune them so that they can perform as the individual wants them to."
Learn more about Sintercore's 3D-printing consulting and Auxetik on Brace's website or his YouTube channel, which discusses many of the realities of 3D printing and ideas.