A recent Wall Street Journal article describes Ford and General Electric's experiments in 3D printed prototypes and production parts. While that's not new, we observed an interesting quote:
The auto maker sees a future where customers will be able to print their own replacement parts. Theoretically, a customer could log onto the Web, scan a bar code or print up an order, take it to a local 3-D printer, and have the part in hours or minutes.
We think this is possible, assuming local Staples or Kinko's offer 3D metal printing. Car owners could order parts in a manner similar to today, but behind the scenes Ford would print parts on demand instead of stocking and shipping parts. Faster and cheaper.
Maybe they'll start with plastic parts.