People have worked on the idea of self-replicating 3D printers for years now. But what would happen if that goal were achieved?
The result could be the scenario envisioned in the whimsical image above that's been circulating on the nets. If you can print anything, why not simply 3D print another 3D printer? Where does it stop?
Of course, we're nowhere near such a capability. Today at best you'd be able to print almost all the plastic parts of a 3D printer and perhaps a few simple electronic traces. The result would most certainly not be completely assembled and tested.
But if 3D printers ever do achieve such an incredible capability, manufacturers would clearly have to deal with the problem, otherwise they'd sell only one unit.
(Hat tip to Mike)