I needed some small plastic brackets to hold a sensor for a new experimental apparatus I'm building for the fall semester's Advanced Lab course. So I designed them, in 3D, on my laptop. This took about 30 minutes. When that was done, I went to my lab and printed them, which took another 30 minutes.
Printed. Parts. Real parts. Physical objects. From "Light bulb!" to "Here are the custom parts you just designed" in an hour. SO COOOL!!!
This is a GOOD time to be a nerd.
Technical details: parts designed in Google Sketchup, printed in ABS on a Solidoodle 2. This blog post should in no way be construed as an endorsement of Solidoodle, where the company policy appears to be to ship replacement parts on a schedule that would make glaciers wonder about the hold-up, and whose printer is currently printing using a jury-rigged extruder heater element that would make MacGyver shudder.