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Michigan startup capitalizes on burgeoning 3D printing market

A new Michigan business has introduced a new product that could help revolutionize the firearms industry, joining the nationwide debate over the controversial new technology of 3D gun printing. The Grand Rapids-based Sintercore created a device it calls the Auxetik, which sits on the barrel of a commonly-used semiautomatic rifle to reduce recoil. The Auxetik could be of immeasurable use to police officers and private gun owners, but has largely attracted attention for another reason: The Auxetik is produced by 3D printing rather than mold casting or machining.

Sintercore's 26-year-old founder was a U.S. Marine and Grand Valley State University student before designing the Auxetik. The Auxetik could represent a huge advancement for the much-discussed and ever-growing 3D printing industry. "People can't believe it's not plastic," he explained, referring to the sophisticated device made of Inconel, a durable alloy frequently used in jet engines and other similarly serious applications. This makes the Auxitek one of the first mass-produced 3D printed object made from metal rather than plastic.

Rather than purchase the expensive industrial grade equipment necessary to make the Auxetik, the business sends orders to a number manufacturers across the nation who print the devices based on Sintercore's plans. The product is then sent customers.

One Michigan Tech professor and 3D printing researcher suggested that business models like Sintercore's could become hugely important in the future, once 3D printing technology has fully matured. He explained that the company's founder "makes a very good model for the entrepreneur of the future - someone who can get to market without having to buy $100,000 of tooling."

While experts say Michigan's gun laws, as well as those of the country at large, are not currently equipped to handle the implications of 3D firearm printing, 3D printing advocates say legislators will have to address the issue sooner rather than later.

Michigan residents starting businesses in 3D printing or any other industry face a number of unique challenges that can be difficult to handle without specific legal knowledge and experience. This makes it useful for such entrepreneurs to consult with a qualified commercial and business law attorney.

Source:, "Click, print, fire: Grand Rapids startup hits accelerating 3D printed weapons market" Garret Ellison, Aug. 18, 2013

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