Fabrication technology – sometimes known as ‘rapid prototyping’ or 3D printing, among other names – is a real Pandora’s box. The benefits of being able to ‘print’ a solid object are manifold (reduced industrial wastage, low overheads and so on), but the technology doesn’t care what it is that you’re printing out, or who’s doing it… or what they’re doing it for.
This is a topic that Futurismic‘s own Sven Johnson has discussed here and elsewhere, but it’s rapidly moving from the realm of the theoretical into reality. For example, fabrication start-up Shapeways has a video of of a guy who has printed off a miniature remote controlled helicopter:
“So what?”, you might be thinking. But as Bruce Sterling points out:
… all that’s missing from the nightmare scenario is a tiny fabbed bomb and some fabbed GPS. Given those, the Israelis are in for hell on earth.
It’s still a relatively pricey way of doing things, but as the overheads drop the potential of 3d printing to put dangerous tools in the wrong hands rises in parallel with its ability to make our lives better. A rising tide floats all boats, after all.