We all know what happened when technology was able to duplicate audio and video. What happens when personal fabs enable everyone to duplicate physical objects? This issue is predicted and analyzed on the reBang Weblog:
At some point, p2p networks won’t have just mp3 files, they’ll have CAD files. When they do, the first thing that will happen is factories in distant corners of the manufacturing world will start churning out bootleg product at a pace that will make current infringement look like pre-Napster music “sharing”. After that people will start using locally-based fabbing services to rapid manufacture parts the way people used to photocopy stuff at the local copy shop. Eventually, home-based 3D printers (or, possibly in the more distant future, nano-factories) will allow people to fab something as easily as they currently print their digital photos.