Take a look at this brief video describing 3D printers, and see if you're not convinced that this particular future is imminent.
(Chris Anderson on 3D printing)
Here's a quick look inside MakerBot's retail store in downtown Manhattan. I remember the first dot-matrix printer I bought in 1984; relatively slow, and the quality wasn't that great. Five years later, I had a laser printer that printed magazine-quality manuscripts.
Finally, this interview with Abe Reichental, of 3D Systems, lays out the future for you.
For me, the intellectual underpinnings for the 3D printing industry can be found in a strange little story by Philip K. Dick. His 1956 story Pay for the Printer introduces the Biltong lifeforms:
The Biltong was dying. Huge and old, it squatted in the center of the settlement park, a lump of ancient yellow protoplasm, thick, gummy, opaque. Its pseudopodia were dried up, shriveled to blackened snakes that lay inert on the brown grass. The center of mass looked oddly sunken. The Biltong was gradually settling as the moisture was burned from its veins by the weak overhead sun...
The Biltong's central lump undulated faintly. Sickly, restless heavings were noticeable as it struggled to hold onto its dwindling life...
On the concrete platform, in front of the dying Biltong, lay a heap of original to be duplicated. Beside them, a few prints had been commenced, unformed balls of black ash mixed with the moisture of the Biltong's body, the juice from which it laboriously constructed its prints.
William Gibson deserves credit, as well, for popularizing the idea in his 1999 story All Tomorrow's Parties; he describes a Nanofax:
"Nanofax AG offers a technology that digitally reproduces objects, physically, at a distance. Within certain rather large limitations, of course. A child's doll, placed in a Lucky Dragon Nanofax unit in London, will be reproduced in the Lucky Dragon Nanofax unit in New York-"
Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 12/18/2012)