NYT on 3D printing

The NYT on lower-cost 3D object fabrication. The article shortly introduces some devices and prices but what is interesting are the implications. Some excerpts:

"These tools are not news to the industrial designers of the world (...) But now hobbyists and small businesses are starting to benefit from low-cost versions of the tools. (...) The world is just beginning to grapple with the implications of this relatively low-cost duplicating method, often called rapid prototyping. Hearing aid companies, for instance, are producing some custom-fitted ear pieces from scanned molds of patients. Custom car companies produce new parts for classic cars or modified parts for hot rods. Consumer product makers create fully functional designs before committing themselves to big production runs. (...) Doctors use them to build practice models, and museums build replicas so people can feel the object without damaging the real artifact (...) The legal landscape, though, may not be ready for the Napsterization of three-dimensional things. (...) Zapping up a new version might run afoul of the same laws being used to fight the piracy of songs. (...) “The rules for running it through your 3-D scanner are pretty much the same as running it through your photocopier.”"

There is also a pertinent discussion about the user experience of such a process ("eliminate error", "ask for help"...). Why do I blog this? mostly curiosity towards fabrication systems, which cost becomes lower... and then more and more user-centered.