An anonymous reader writes "What will it mean when 3D fabricators become cheap and common? A NY Times article explores the ease of copying objects by scanning them with NextEngine scanner and sending them to 3d 'print shops'. The experiments were done with Legos because most of the things around his office were protected by copyright. What will happen to the economy for engineering when we can just download a pirated description of a machine and 'print' it out? 'The world is just beginning to grapple with the implications of this relatively low-cost duplicating method, often called rapid prototyping. Hearing aid companies, for instance, are producing some custom-fitted ear pieces from scanned molds of patients. Custom car companies produce new parts for classic cars or modified parts for hot rods. Consumer product makers create fully functional designs before committing themselves to big production runs.'"