The possibilities and questions are endless at this point.
3-D printing is progressing at such fast rate that it may become just another part of our daily lives within a decade. A heavy proposition for sure. What does it mean? It’s a perplexing dilemma. On the one hand, when LEGO forgets to put a single piece into a box set of Black Beard’s pirate ship from “Pirates of the Caribbean,” it would have been much more efficient to have had a machine at home that could have printed the missing gray piece in a matter of minutes for my nephew as opposed to calling the LEGO Store and getting it shipped from Denmark.
On the other hand, purchasing a machine that prints 3-D objects will undoubtedly reduce commerce in stores (offline and online), consequently hurting businesses that are run by our neighbors, friends and people who are just trying to make a good living. Society will become much more introverted, which is a dynamic that has positives like convenience, but is (currently) outweighed by negatives, such as the decreasing inclination to go outside to a video rental store.
What will be the landmark case be surrounding patents? How will businesses adjust to this evolution of people being able to make and/or copy-and-paste a wide-array of things themselves that are normally sold in stores? What will the quality of the printed objects be? What positive effects on society will it have? What negative effects on society will it have?
3-D printing is evolving into pivotal issues of need versus want and quality versus convenience (just two examples).
At least we don’t need special glasses to see all this coming at us…