IEEE Spectrum writes:
Fabbersmachines that rapidly create useful items on demand from computer-generated design specificationshave been fantasy fodder for decades. And for good reason: a machine that could make a huge variety of reasonably complicated objects, and yet was attainable by ordinary people, would transform human society to a degree that few creations ever have.
Compact and yet capable fabbers point the way toward a future where the term “online shopping” takes on a whole new meaning. Imagine purchasing a piece of software that encodes detailed specifications of something and then seeing that object emerge from a box on your desk no bigger than a microwave oven. Like your desktop printer today, this desktop fabber would use some sort of cartridges. And just as desktop-printer cartridges contain the inks that can produce a limitless variety of images, the fabber cartridges would contain the necessary raw materials to create a profusion of desired items.
Neil Gershenfeld’s book “Fab” explores this in greater depth.