We encountered an interesting discussion about the future of 3D printing as it applies to manufacturing. Currently items are generally mass produced in distant factories, and then shipped to your local big-box store where you can pick them up at low prices. The theory is that this model will only persist for items that truly are standardized that have no need for variation. However, for anything that does deserve variation, personal or local 3D print facilities may eventually eliminate the need to head over to the big box store.
A great observation by Vinay Gupta in the discussion was:
a combination of supply chain logistics, customization, irregular demand and other factors makes mass manufacture implausible is already being done using distributed manufacturing. the biggest example of that, which nobody talks about, is housing which is all done with entirely redundantly stupid distributed manufacturing resulting in absurdly high prices for items which should come off production lines for 10% of the cost of hand-assembled individually unique boutique housing, which is currently the only model generally available.
Any place you see 5000 functionally equivalent items in a store, and you go in and sort through for what you need, you have a distributed manufacturing opportunity.
We heartily agree with these comments and also hope for Giant Housing Factories, too!