: Sometimes it takes decades for ideas to become reality:
I have personally been exposed to 3D printing for about 20 years... always in discussions that this will reinvent manufacturing. In fact, Alvin Toffler, in the Future Shock trilogy written a long time ago, talks about this.
But the reality is that it the process is messy, fraught with problems, and is not yet cost-effective enough for even heavy academic use (e.g., senior design projects).
It will happen eventually, and it is a technology that offers great hope, but it is probably 20 years away from being cost-effective.
-Joseph Picone (11-07-2012)