I linked to various terms above if unfamiliar with terms. Seeing the capabilities of the 3d printers, the influence of Arduinos, and robot progress, I am very convinced we are back in the IBM PC days of 1981 for this new technological revolution. I believe 3d printers and other related tech are moving towards Moores law, where we will start seeing great progress in capability every 18 months.
It is not out of the question that in 16 years, we will have a sort of Star-Trek machine that can create anything we want made of metal and plastic, even simple electronics. 30 years, print your own cell phone.
Like any new trend, the gains are greatest earlier relative to the previous tech level.
So I bring you below videos from Makerfaire. As for investing, well...I messed up on that one. When I posted the American Manufacturing Revolution post in Dec 2011, if I immediately bought 3d printer stocks, I would have done fan-tastic. Not to say its too late, but I don't want to buy in earnest unless I see a fire sale after such a quick rise. I may buy a little of each for now. (100 shares)
Stocks to look at: ssys , ddd, ARCM (Swedish)
More interesting is 3d printing organs...yes, you read that right. ONVO , (TOO SPECULATIVE!)
Makerbot is NOT yet public, but I believe they are moving in that direction. They closed sourced their latest printer.