The RepRap project has apparently now reached a level of 3D printing quality which is comparable to, or better than, far more expensive commercially available rapid prototypers.
These devices are really still in their infancy, and the rate of printing is slow, but it's the beginning of a new type of manufacturing process which doesn't depend upon large amounts of capital investment in equipment. Things will start to get even more interesting once it's also possible to print out circuit boards and solar panels.
With new 3D scanning processes such as that which exists within RoboEarth it should also be possible to rapidly produce models which can be printed, and this opens up a new front in the ongoing controversies over copyright. Probably the solution is for original 3D models to be distributed under something like a Creative Commons license, such that there is a growing public domain of printable objects.
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