So we all love rapid prototyping, the idea that we could design something in 3D on our computer - like a pair of pliers, let's say - and then just print it out using a machine right in our office. And that's not a far off future or anything; rapid prototyping very much exists today, although it's expensive, and, well, it sort of sucks if you're trying to build something that won't shatter when you put any weight on it. So enter eMachineShop.com, an amazingly rad combination of software and sweat, which allows you to design a part in a CAD-like program and then send it over the internet to a real machine shop where, given that it's something feasible to create (and the software helps you determine that), a team of 17 machinists will craft your part, bundle it up, and send it back to you via post. The turn around is about 30 days, but that's fine - there's nothing else like it. It's not even that expensive; the article listed 10 custom made brass doorknobs being milled out for around $150. Considering there's a labor cost in there, too, it sounds totally reasonable.
I am so captivated by the concept that I'm toying with the idea of designing and ordering something, myself. I don't need a metal gear with the Gizmodo "G" carved out of the middle, but it doesn't mean I shouldn't get one, right?
Oh, and my lord. Think of the spoilers the rice kids will be making now. (Thanks, Wadsworth!)
Read - Design software comes with machine shop attached [CNews.Canoe]
Read - Company Home Page [eMachineShop]