There is something about self-sufficiency that is deeply embedded in American culture. It’s not that people the world over don’t want to be able to survive on their own, but we seem to have the market cornered on paranoid obsession with self-reliance. The most extreme example of this is the healthy-sized community of doomsday preppers, a group which was recently the subject of its own TV show. If all you know about preppers is what you’ve seen on the show, you might think there could be no possible connection between them and 3D printing as so many reject technology completely and advocate a low-tech, high hoarding approach.
The rejection of technology by preppers is selective and largely dependent upon their ideas of what will be available to them in their own particular post-event picture. Human beings are nothing if not crafty and the likelihood that we would fall back into the stone age, never to emerge again, is fairly slim. So, many of those planning to outwit doomsday plan on some form of energy being available, just not one for which you get a monthly bill, complete with autopay options. In scenarios where solar, wind, or Mad Max guzzolene are part of the landscape of possibilities, having a 3D printer might just be the very best thing you could have.
James Ray, an expert in self-reliance, has earned himself the nickname 3D Prepper because of his vocal opinion that 3D printing is the ultimate survival tool. Ray’s doomsday scenario involves something more frightening than zombies or terrorist chaos. Instead, he wants to be prepared in the awful even that we experience…a Donald Trump presidency. The ability to create just about anything you need — a knife, a gear, or a water container — was something he just couldn’t ignore. In his words:
“The connection was instantaneous. I can create tools much more functional than what’s already out there. I can make homemade knives, toys, even tools that don’t exist. I can make replacement parts for things that broke. Instead of buying a new drill for $120, I 3D printed some gears. It’s been working for years now.”
Yes it would be difficult to imagine using a computer to design a 3D model and then running a 3D printer at 150 watts if power can only be supplied by a centralized electric grid. However, with advances in solar, wind, water, and a number of other generating technologies, it’s not so unlikely that the power necessary to run the equipment could actually be recreated post-disaster. After all, a small number of people in the United States manage to live off the grid, by choice, and some do it quite well.
According to technologist and prepper Steve Spence, he has had no trouble living off of the grid in South Carolina for nearly a decade:
“If the power grid isn’t working, you can still run your prepping equipment on an off-grid system. All you need is a charger to charge your batteries, solar or wind, a set of batteries to hold electricity, and an inverter. You’re your own power company.”
And while many in the prepping community might still argue that access to a working 3D printer post-endgame scenario is still highly doubtful, there seems to be a general agreement that it can be a highly useful tool for getting ready. Ray is such a fervent believer that he published a book entitled 3D Printing for Preparedness, for sale through Amazon, but many members of the prep community use online forums to freely share their ideas, an open source culture very similar to that in which 3D making thrives. And while Reddit probably won’t survive a worldwide catastrophe, it’s quite possible that 3D printing could provide a significant leg up to those left to rebuild.
Whatever horrors to future might hold, whether Donald Trump or armies of zombies, the 3D printer is at least a tool to prepare and at best, the key to living as more than just survival. Discuss further in the 3D Printer for Doomsday Preppers forum over at 3DPB.com.[Source: Motherboard / Images: Estately]