There are means for printing metal and ceramics now with very small tolerances but the prices of those machines or services are out of this world expensive. It is simpler and cheaper to befriend a CNC Machining Center operator and get some stuff done out of aluminum or steel, i.e. a camera body. I have no problem with printing out some minor details that don't need much precision but there is no reason to reinvent a wheel here. Remember, a job worth doing is a job worth doing well!
I happened to be on the inside of some early color-inkjet and color-thermal-wax printer technology, back in the 1980s. At the time it was one of those dancing-bear situations: the impressive part is not how well the bear dances, but that it dances at all. People were amazed by the color prints, of course, but it was because 200 dpi of overly vivid colors that bled quite a bit at the edges was still stunningly different from anything you could get without going to a professional print shop.
Of course, it was obviously never going to cut into the business of those professional print shops, because you needed special paper that was super-expensive and inconvenient to work with, the ink permanence was poor, the wax printers were impossibly expensive (five figures in US dollars, and that was in 1980s dollars!), there were so many obvious inadequacies in the output when you held it up next to a real magazine or a color photo...and we all know what happened in the next few decades.
There might be laws of physics that make it difficult for 3-D printing in metals and/or at high precision to improve hyperbolically, the way 2-D printing did. But there are also a lot of smart and well-financed people looking at the problem, and some of them aren't thinking about thousandths of an inch but about angstroms.
there 's going to be all sorts of things now that people are getting access. People will adapt to whatever limitations there are and start producing all kinds of stuff. Here's an update where a guy printed a speaker
The ability to print clear materials will surely lead to new 3d printed experimental lens designs--perhaps those which can be easily finish ground using 3d printed grinding jigs to mate with a 3d printed lens to produce a perfect grind lens very cheaply and at home.
let the haters hate and let the makers MAKE!
I own a dental lab, and in our industry, we currently print a LOT. Resin, chrome cobalt, and even some precious alloys. At the level that I am working on, the tolerances are accurate (usually within 50 microns or so) for us to make it a viable product. So for certain applications, the technology is past its adolescent phase. With larger items, the errors become larger. I would think that cameras and such will not have the needed tolerances for a while now.
But it'll be a while before anyone is printing their own Leica or F3, I agree, and the technology may never get to where that's a feasible consumer-desktop level of precision. And I don't know if anyone is really looking at 3-D printing of optical glass, which seems like a difficult niche but an enormously fun one if it magically appeared!
Let me know when they are 3D printing replacement hearts, kidneys, livers, etc. Till then it's just more computerized foolishness.
First I'd print a 3D hammer to smash the crap out of that camera and the print head it rode in on.
Ok, it going to be a force of new technology that's future bound. In France there is a standalone replacement heart ready for the market. 3D print one an the wilderness and use a robot to put it in. The world is changing, old technologies are being phased out and new ones are emerging. We are at the beginning of a new industrial revolution. It's called the Third Industrial Revolution and recyclability is one part of it, another part is energy conservation and creation. Trees won't be cut down to make cameras and tripods. Instead they'll be made of composite materials; if at all. What we call antiques will become artifacts of curiosity. Next time I'll tell you how and when the world ends! ;-)