3D printing is being used to print spare parts for race cars, fighter jets, to print firearms and rocket engines. It is also being used to print pills, body tissues and replacement parts, to print entire homes, boats, and automobiles.
In the setting of TEOTWAWKI when TSHTF, the ability to print spare parts for all types of machines and life-support systems will become critically important.
Modern 3D printers may print in metal, glass, plastics, stone, cement, wood, living cells, biogel matrix, and a number of other materials.
Adding New Dimensions to 3D Printing
In an earlier article on re-building civilisation after TSHTF, we discussed the importance of the mastery of basic chemistry. 3D printing adds a new dimension to chemistry which should prove invaluable to the compleat prepper.
Chemistry is all about the morphing of materials into another form. This aspect is precisely one of the key challenges of the development of 3D printing: how to create new materials to use with the additive manufacturing process? This matter is important in order to broaden the possibilities of uses but also to go beyond the current limits of 3D printing.
… Developed by Self-assembly lab of MIT, 4D printing uses programmable materials that are able to change shape without complex stimulation. The “4” came from the addition of a new variable : the time. Meaning that with the time, the shape of the structure will change.
… Besides these important innovations in the chemical industry, 3D printing can also help you in your daily work. For instance at the imperial College London, a PhD student, James Bannock, used 3D printing to save time during his research. He switched to 3D printing because he “can make parts that would otherwise be impossible or unnecessarily time consuming […] and it is especially useful when multiples of the same component are needed’. __ http://www.sculpteo.com/blog/2015/10/28/3d-printing-for-the-chemical-industry/
As 3D printing becomes faster, the appeal of manufacturing multiple copies of the same crucial machine part will grow. In some cases, this may become a side business for an enterprising survivalist — whether the spare part being manufactured is for a tractor, a water purification system, or a weapons system.
Last year, Survival blog published an interesting feature on “Rapid Prototyping and Teotwawki. The article introduces some basic concepts of using 3D printing — otherwise known as additive manufacturing or rapid prototyping.
If there is a breakdown in the normal manufacturing system because of TEOTWAWKI, the usual supply of parts may be unavailable to replace the broken pieces of our machines. However, 3d printing might provide a solution by allowing us to make whatever we need as we need it, but we’d need to exercise caution. There are problems of strength, accuracy, and technical ability involved in this process, and it isn’t “Beam me up Scottie” quite yet.
… All of the parts are created in what are called solid modelers. There are two major modeling software companies–Autodesk and Dassault Systems– with computer software programs in the $3,000-$4,000 range that account for most of the production. Autodesk’s products include Autocad and Inventor, though AutoCAD is much more popular than Inventor. Dassault Systems offers Solidworks. In addition, there are several older or smaller companies with products that are worth mentioning, such as Cadence, Turbocad, ProE, Siemens NX/solidedge, Cadkey, Intellicad, and Rhino. Some of these are available at quite reasonable prices.
… ___ Survival Blog
The author goes on to discuss a few technical issues involved in basic 3D printing, using different techniques and media. He also provides a few references for further investigation. Keep in mind that 3D print technology is advancing very rapidly, and anyone who wishes to take full advantage of its potential will need to do a lot of research and experimentation.
This illustrates both the problem and the opportunity for would be Additive Manufacturers. There is a steep learning curve for mastering the basic technical aspects for different machines and different media. Then there is the wide-open world of hands-on experimentation that will be required to get the most out of your machines. The best additive manufacturers will be both engineer / technician and crafstman / artist.
Don’t forget the Global Village Construction Set, which includes 3D printers as one of the most important tools for rebuilding civilisation. Once various approaches to 3D printing have been mastered, building most of the other tools for survival will become easier.
What else might a survivalist compound use a 3D printer to do? Once could manufacture defensive structures to safeguard various approaches to the compound. Besides the basic residential compound, one might 3D manufacture a number of out-buildings for storage, livestock, covert entry to underground facilities, and even structures such as large septic systems, dams, and irrigation canals. One will still need machines such as excavators, cranes, etc. for large projects, but additive manufacturing allows for exquisite customisation not easily attained by most other standard methods.
So you can see that 3D printing can span the range between the molecular-size and the large structural size — including buildings, boats, submarines, wheeled vehicles, and flying machines of various types.
With the mastery of these various additive manufacturing systems comes the ability to bypass many governmental and quasi-governmental (utilities) services. In other words, at the same time one is making his household more resilient and robust, he is also reducing his reliance on outside institutions.
In years past, we looked at putting a full machine fabrication and repair shop into a shipping container, for similar “SHTF” uses. We have likewise emphasised the importance of welding expertise for preppers and independent homesteaders.
But we are entering a phase of geopolitical instability in which it is more and more important to have as many tools on your belt as possible, given your situation. Try to connect with as many reliable persons of like mind as you can.
Agriculture, defence, secure housing, life support infrastructure (clean water, access to basic medicines, black and gray water disposal, heating and lighting, power w/ backups, and communications), reliable transportation, etc. are all dependent upon technology — and technologies always fail eventually. Best to make provisions before it happens.
Hope for the best. Prepare for the worst. It is never too late to have a Dangerous Childhood.