3D printers are fast becoming one of the hottest new technologies. While the technology is still in the very early stages, Michigan Tech researcher Joshua Pearce is predicting that personal manufacturing, like personal computing before it, is about to enter the mainstream in a big way."For the average American consumer, 3D printing is ready for showtime," said Associate Professor Joshua Pearce.3D printers allows users to make almost anything, from toys to tools to kitchen gadgets. Users can download tens of thousands free designs on websites like Thingiverse and make their own products using open-source 3D printers.After conducting a lifecycle economic analysis on 3D printing in an average American household, Pearce concluded the typical family can already save a great deal of money by making things with a 3D printer instead of buying them off the shelf.In the study, Pearce and his team chose 20 common household items listed on Thingiverse, such as cellphone accessories, a garlic press, a showerhead, a spoon holder, and the like. Some of the 20 things Joshua Pearce's group printed (Credit: Justin Plichta/Michigan Technological University)Then they used Google Shopping to determine the maximum and minimum cost of buying those 20 items online, shipping charges not included.