I've been following Chris Anderson's long tail musings since last October's Wired article. Brilliant stuff. Chris' current blog post is a step towards the next dimension. Literally. In it he describes a process for creating a DIY toy rocket launcher from Quake3.
Not creating an image of the rocket launcher, but a 3D, plastic/metal "real copy" of an object that doesn't exist except as an image in a video game. Atoms from bits, in your basement. Using an image capture program, CAD software and a 3D printer or milling machine. By the way, if you've never seen a CAD-controlled 3D milling machine, get ready for a "Wow!" experience of the first order. I saw one of these bad boys creating a styrofoam Nissan sedan several years ago and it forever changed my worldview. Here's one that makes jewelry. I've been waiting for home market versions to show up ever since.
We may be a ways away from that just yet, but home fabrication of simple objects? Looks like we're getting close.
Wait 'til those guys from MAKE get their hands on this stuff!
But we're also into a zone that will make the RIAA copyright situation look like a little spat. If I'm able to make a pefect Chewbacca clone and hack its paint job and sell it at a local flea market and on eBay, what do you think George Lucas is going to do?
Well, it's one thing if I'm a Taiwan-based toy manufacturer, but what if I'm a 14 year old in Dubuque? Times 500,000 in towns all over the country.
What happens when we're able to "clone" any simple non-mechanical object made of readily available inexpensive material? Stay tuned.