Donna Noble Was Right. Santa's a Robot!
I watched the Isaac Arthur video "The Santa Claus Machine" again today. It's been at least a year since I last saw it. Past the season but it has some discussion about 3D printing and that's good anytime.
I think the evolution of 3D printer adoption will be like the personal computer. A lot of techies get involved with using it in home projects. Then some people will be interacting with one at work but not necessarily see any reason to have on in their home. Then as the design and ease for the user improves most people will have one in their home. I would imagine most homes will end up having at least two: one for food and another for more general use.
The size at which a "Santa Claus machine" can print an object will always have limits. Isaac Arthur covered the lower molecular and atomic limits. When printing a shirt or a battery that small of a scale isn't necessary. Clothing could be printed at the millimeter or centimeter scale. The printing of different materials together like rubber, foam and plastics for shoes would be tricky but should also be feasible.
For larger objects, as the video points out, a centralized large scale assembler could take orders. The video states drones can deliver them. That caused me to question what the limits of a drone can be. I don't think drones are delivering stove ovens, refrigerators or king sized beds yet. I would prefer that to be done by self-driving truck.
The real goal is for a "Santa Claus machine" to make another "Santa Claus machine". Once that happens lots of people will have them.
Obviously counterfeiting is going to be a problem. Copyright and trademarks would also be a problem. Isaac Arthur mentions designing assemblers so they can't produce poisons or weapons. Based on the music industry's attempts to come up with an unbreakable digital rights management system I am sure hackers will always find a way to circumvent any safeguards. That's both scary and reassuring. In the wrong hands that puts lives in danger but hackers could also take away the authority of a centralized body from monopolizing what templates are available.