Friends of mine in UW CSE and at the Intel Research lab in Seattle have been 3D printing stuff out of plastic for a while now and I’m always amazed, but it’s mostly prototypes even if they are useful. If you can actually get people to make you stainless steel printed things, that’s just fucking awesome.
The prices aren’t dirt cheap but you seem to be able to get reasonably complex things for less than $100 and the price is likely to come down with time. Maybe we really are going to live in an era where we can flaunt at least some things in the face of economies of scale.
It vaguely reminds me of some comments I overheard about how we’re in the pre-industrial age of software design where each piece of code is really artisanal. That implies that the next step is to move toward industrial production of code, but maybe that’s not the case. Maybe what cheap, on-demand 3D printing is saying that some things can really always stay artisanal without too much cost.