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Man Uses 3D Printer to Build Handheld Railgun

railgunThe U.S. Navy has spent the last decade and millions of dollars developing an electromagnetic railgun—a weapon that propels projectiles using electricity instead of chemical propellants. Meanwhile, an ambitious DIYer named David Wirth just used a 3D printer to build his own railgun at home.

Railguns use electromagnetic fields to launch projectiles at speeds as fast as Mach 10. The military is investing in these directed energy weapons, which can cause more damage than conventional weapons because incredibly fast acceleration creates a wave of kinetic energy along with the projectiles.

While the Navy’s railgun is a large weapon designed to be mounted on a battleship, Wirth built a handheld version that looks like it’s straight out of science fiction. He constructed the railgun using a combination of 3D printed parts, off-the-shelf electronics and hardware. The gun is powered by a bank of six capacitors that weigh 20 pounds and deliver over 1,800 joules of energy per shot.

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Wirth’s railgun—just like military versions—uses a pair of parallel rails to accelerate a sliding armature bullet. An electromagnetic current flows through one rail, into the armature and then back into the other rail. According to Wirth’s Tumblr page, his railgun can fire copper plated tungsten, aluminum, carbon and teflon/plasma. He also writes:

The 12V LiPo battery is first stepped up to 120V using a micro-inverter, then stepped up to 1550V through a transformer before being rectified. The high voltage rectifier gets quite hot so a heatsink was mounted on the outside.

Although Wirth’s homemade railgun is quite impressive, it isn’t nearly as dangerous as the military’s version. He claims his projectiles reach 560 mph, which is nowhere near the 13,000 mph at which military versions travel. Pictures of his project are on Imgur, and  several test videos can be seen on YouTube.

Source: Engadget | 3dprint.com

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