. . . you can download product data from the Web,
perhaps tweak it and personalize it to your own preference
and your own taste, and have that information sent to a desktop
machine that will fabricate it for you on the spot. . . .
How does a thirty-year-old technology finally become commonplace? In this TED Talk, Lisa Harouni, co-founder and CEO of Digital Forming, describes "the extraordinary idea" of 3-D printing, or "additive" manufacturing, and explains why, as many barriers to use have broken down, 2012 may be the year this fascinating technology comes into its own, allowing architects, product designers, and others to create intricate, and often beautiful, bespoke structures, from prototypes of buildings, to once-obsolete spare parts, to personalized merchandise, to medical prostheses that can be constructed no other way. The technology, Harouni emphasizes, is "revolutionary."
Also Of Interest:
3D Printing at Explaining The Future
The World's Smallest 3D Printer
"Could 3D Printing End Our Throwaway Culture?", The Guardian, November 17, 2011
"How 3D Printing Will Change Absolutely Everything It Touches", Forbes, August 17, 2011
"Catastrophe Becomes Art with 3D Printing", PCWorld, November 1, 2011 (See the video here of the beautiful Japanese earthquake sculpture created with 3D printing.)
"3D Printer Art in Belgium", Singularity Hub, February 5, 2010 (Be sure to watch the video included with the article.)