Researchers at the Cornell University Creative Machines Lab recently developed a machine that they used to print components vital to working electronics, as well as a functioning electromagnet and battery. Home printers are poised to follow a similar development curve. Hod Lipson, the Creative Machines Lab director, says consumer-grade multi-material printers are less than a decade away.
Think about a world where 3D printers are affordable and the instructions for printing objects are distributed online like applications. Prices will decline and development of them will increase, as people iterate on designs at speeds closer to software.
No longer will it be necessary to find suppliers and manufacturers to create a new hardware product—just distribute the instructions online.