This is not the world science fiction has promised us -- a world of jet packs and space tourism for the masses are still more fantasy than fact. But the future is coming, and 3D printing will be a part of it. Though still decades, if not more, from the replicators on Star Trek, these increasingly affordable desktop devices can create -- usually in plastic, but in other materials as well -- intricate designs. Acolytes of the technology foresee a world where 3D printers are a household necessity, like a microwave. The battery cover of your remote control broke the way it always does? Just search an online database for the part and print a new one.
Or you could make a new product of your own. The proliferation of 3D printing has the potential to democratize the process of design, production, and manufacture of small commercial goods. And as 3D printers become more ubiquitous, this will present new challenges. When people can make just about anything in their homes, how will governments regulate the things they create? Here are some of the items that are already being made on desktops and in garage hobby shops, and some things that might be printable soon.