“So once you have a design on your computer, you can prototype a single copy on your desktop fabricator—or upload it to a commercial manufacturing service and generate thousands. Essentially, you “print local” on your MakerBot and “print global” with cloud manufacturing services ranging from Shapeways and Ponoko to Chinese mass-production facilities found through Alibaba.com. Modern CAD software like the free Autodesk 123D even offers wizards to make it simple to go from one copy to many. All you have to do is click the right buttons, enter your credit card number, and you’re in the manufacturing business. The services will even ship the finished goods directly to customers.”
I’m sure Starfleet started with extruded colored plastics as well. This is impressive stuff and for $2,000 it’s getting more affordable for hackerspaces, DIY groups, schools and colleges – not to mention the individual.