Why was 3D printing created?

Why was 3D printing a technology that was pursued? When 3D printing technology first emerged it was to create prototypes for parts for planes and cars. By using 3D printing to test how effective these parts were and whether the size, shape and material were correct it saved time and money. Allowing the parts to be tested and corrected before plans progressed to factories to be created on a mass scale. 3D printing technology will give us greater ability to repair appliances when parts have become faulty. In the past if an older model appliance had a part that become faulty it was difficult and potentially expensive to obtain a part that was no longer in production. This would lead to the object being thrown out and replaced.  In the future we could instead go online look up the part and either print out the part at home or get it printed somewhere else through a third party website such as http://www.sculpteo.com, http://www.i.materialise.com or http://www.shapeways.com.

Using this technology would eradicate the need for factories to stockpile items for future placement within in stores as stores could print items as needed. It also removes the need for transporting the items from factory to store. This reduces the waste associated with mass production, and reduces the environmental footprint that is left by factories and transport.  (Economist 2011)