Home 3D printers are just now starting to become a reality. While the cost is still in the thousands, there is at least one person who has one at home and can use it to print out 3D objects. Plastic game components are one item that prints wonderfully from this printer.
It’s easy to imagine a world where you just send a file to this printer and it prints out a board game, but there are still some problems. First, 3D printers won’t just print you a finished board like we expect, unless your board consists of a piece of plastic. Even then, coloring patterns on that plastic are still beyond the reach of 3D printers at home.
The technology is good at one thing, really, and that’s printing items like dice, counters, and simple miniatures. I expect that 3D home printing will have a tremendous impact on miniatures gaming, for example.
I also expect that as 3D home printing becomes popular, other game manufacturers will find ways to use it to create interesting games that don’t require a board. Icehouse immediately comes to mind here.
Still, as cool as 3D printing is, you won’t be able to hit a button and print all of the cards and boards that come with, say, Agricola. At least, not with this generation of 3D printers. Home crafting of games will still largely be in the hands of print-and-play crafters.