As new desktop sized 3D printers get to market practically every month (commercial/proprietary as well as Open Source), an ever increasing base of potential customers and makers is being created.
I can imagine that just as the dispersion of the first 100k Personal Computers created completely new secondary markets such as peripherals, addons, the entire software industry (Silicon Valley!), the Internet, etc, so too will the dispersion of the first 100k desktop 3D printers create completely new secondary markets.
Among the main differences between the PC revolution and the now happening Reprap (lets call it that) revolution is that the latter is starting from the very beginning in a standardised, open-platform manner. The PC industry didn’t really kick off until components and their dimensions became standardised (IBM, DELL, etc). Dell of course added to this revolution it’s own evolutionary aspect by making modular customizable on-demand PCs and later notebooks.
This modularity, interchangeability, and customizability is already reality in most desktop 3D printers.
But what might the next step be? Well, beyond the rise of “piracy” of physibles (3D objects) and the new sharing and maker culture, I can really see commercial applications being developed for these new class of people.
Imagine creating a smartphone precision 3D scanning periphery (Android, IPhone) which utilises its own software, massive HPC cloud computing, and the onboard super-high resolution camera to create extremely detailed 3D digital blueprints for existing objects, which then would automatically and via crowdsouricng be uploaded to some central server into your “physibles library”. Imagine photographing with your smartphone your shaver, discovering that somebody already did that, and then use abbreviated designs of that shaver’s handle to print out your own cheap shaver. The razorblades industry won’t be happy.
There’s a potentially enormous disruption, as in disrupting the current system of the means of production, coming our way.