Was a 3D-printed firearm discharged? - Study of traces produced by the use of six fully 3D-printed firearms

Journal article


Aurélie Szwed, Stefan Schaufelbühl, Alain Gallusser, Denis Werner and Olivier Delémont 2023. Was a 3D-printed firearm discharged? - Study of traces produced by the use of six fully 3D-printed firearms. Forensic Science International. pp. 1-35. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.forsciint.2023.111736
AuthorsAurélie Szwed, Stefan Schaufelbühl, Alain Gallusser, Denis Werner and Olivier Delémont
Abstract

Since the blueprints of the Liberator were published and successfully tested, countless new designs for said 3D-printed firearms and 3D-printed firearm components have been created and made publicly available. These new 3D-printed firearms, which are praised by their designers as ever more reliable, can be found on the Internet with little effort. Press reports have shown that various models of 3D-printed firearms have already been confiscated by law enforcement services around the world. So far, forensic studies have addressed this set of problems relatively little, whereby for the most part only the Liberator has been examined in detail and three other designs were only included a few times. The rapid pace of this development poses new challenges for forensic investigations and unveil new spheres of investigation regarding 3D-printed firearms. This research initiative aims to determine whether the results from previous studies on Liberators, are also reproducible and observable when using other models of 3D-printed firearms. In this respect six fully 3D-printed firearms – PM422 Songbird, PM522 Washbear, TREVOR, TESSA, Marvel Revolver and Grizzly – were produced on a material extrusion type Prusa i3 MK3S using PLA as the material. Test firings of these 3D-printed firearms have shown that they are indeed functional, but that, depending on the model, they suffer different levels of damage when fired. However, they were all rendered inoperative after one discharge and could not be used for further discharges unless the broken pieces were replaced. As in other studies, the firing process and the resulting ruptures on the 3D-printed firearm, projected polymer parts and fragments of different sizes and in different quantities into the immediate environment. The parts could be physically matched, allowing the reconstruction and identification of the 3D-printed firearms. Elements of ammunition also showed traces of melted polymer on the surface and cartridge cases bore tears or swellings.

KeywordsAdditive manufacturing; Homemade firearm ; Material Extrusion (ME); Crime scene ; investigation Traceology
Year2023
JournalForensic Science International
Journal citationpp. 1-35
PublisherElsevier
ISSN 0379-0738
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1016/j.forsciint.2023.111736
Web address (URL)https://doi.org/10.1016/j.forsciint.2023.111736
Output statusPublished
Publication dates22 May 2023
Publication process dates
Accepted19 May 2023
Deposited25 May 2023
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