It’s easy to criticize 3D printing in the gun world. Outside of a handful of applications, the final product is often of a lower quality than a similar product made using conventional tools, and often more expensive.
That being said it also represents a new direction for manufacturing, as with many new technologies. Unlike most manufacturing, 3D printing is an additive process; objects are built up layer by layer, deposit by deposit. Traditional manufacturing is largely subtractive; tools cut away unneeded material from a larger piece of stock.
In order to make an object using subtractive measures you must be able to make a tool that can remove that unwanted material. Similarly, casting and injection molding have restrictions on the shapes they can make due to die limitations.
With 3D printing, there are relatively few shape restrictions, because all objects are made a thin layer at a time.
Of course, 3D printing has drawbacks, too, almost all of which are in the materials department. Most use plastic, plastics that are designed to be melted, injected through a nozzle and glue onto the layer beneath it. Particularly on the consumer side of 3D printing.
But on the industrial side, things are a lot more interesting. Laser interesting.
And that’s where the Auxetik Muzzle Brake comes in.
The Auxetik brake, by Sintercore, uses the advanced process of laser sintering-based 3D printing that can work with much more firearm-friendly materials, in this case, Inconel, a nickel-chromium alloy that is traditionally used for blast baffles in suppressors and other high-stress parts like rocket thruster chambers.
Inconel, owing to its extreme hardness, is difficult to work with at best. However, because laser-based 3D printing uses an additive process, Sintercore doesn’t have to worry about machining the metal, and is not only working with it, they’re developing a muzzle device that is unlike the rest.
On the outside it looks like a fine, brass-colored flash hider, but the device has two expansion chambers and a series of gas vents. The first chamber captures some of the expanding muzzle blast, cools it and channels it into the second chamber, where it slams back into the gas leaving the barrel.
Although thorough side-by-side comparisons still need to be made, Sintercore claims that their design has better muzzle climb control, flash suppression and even noise elimination properties than traditional muzzle devices.
The Auxetik brake, owing to an complex internal design, promises a level of performance not matched by muzzle devices that use traditional manufacturing processes. Combined with an all-Inconel construction it also promises to at least match and in some circumstances exceed steel muzzle devices in terms of durability.
Sintercore reinforced the bottom line that their laser-sintered 3D printing method delivered on a true Inconel product. “3D printed Inconel has similar or better mechanical properties to forged, cast, or machined Inconel.”
Simply put, 3D printing allows designs that are not possible with traditional subtractive manufacturing and Sintercore’s metal is just as good as any, if not better, even though it’s 3D printed.
These muzzle brakes are not parts that any 3D printing enthusiast can laser-sinter up a pair of at home. The type of 3D printing used is hardly for home use and Sintercore is not giving away the plans for their Auxetik brake.
No, Sintercore is planning to sell Auxetik brakes, and for all their promises they’re going to have to deliver as the suggested retail price for a brake is $399. Right now Sintercore is taking pre-orders for the first batch, which are expected to leave the print shop later this month and ship “no later than August,” for just $299.
It’s somewhat understandable, as both the materials and the 3D printing methods being used are without a doubt exotic, although at these prices it will take some time before they take over the market for A2 alternatives.
Down the road, they hope to offer something with more market appeal. “We’re just as interested in a low-cost version of this brake as you are,” reads a Sintercore statement on their Facebook page. Our current manufacturing process is expensive, but it’s our only option at this moment. Stay tuned.”
- Caliber: 5.56mm/.223
- Threading: 1/2×28 right hand
- Length: 1.75 inches
- Diameter: 0.86 inches
- A2 flash hider external dimensions
- Fits all common AR-15 designs and many other pistols and rifles in 5.56 NATO/.223 Remington with threaded barrels
- Weight: 2.5oz
- Material: Inconel
- Finish: Shot-peened (note: tan and black discoloration after firing is natural)
- Included: Installation instructions, crush washer