3D printing may not break into the mainstream any time soon, but 3D printers can help expedite the product design processes for businesses. 3D printers enable designers to experiment with a variety of forms and play with designs that are difficult to visualize in 2D.
This video does a great job explaining the process of manufacturing a plastic object, in this case a Japanese robot. It covers everything: CAD design > 3D printed prototypes > Injection molds > Molding plastics > Finishing.
The guys in costumes and soundtrack do a great job making this enjoyable on many levels. Ultimately 3D printing is one part of a long continuum and even if it doesn’t make it to the desktop it is going to profoundly change the world of design and manufacturing.