Elon Musk goes full Tony Stark, shows the future of design and manufacturing (video)
If they use that at SpaceX, they probably do at Tesla too...Innovation isn't just about coming up with something 100% new that nobody had seen before. It can be about taking what is already there and pushing it farther, or executing better than anyone else and getting all the small things right. That's kind of what Elon Musk has been doing with his companies. He wasn't the first one to think about sending money over email, but Paypal did it better than anyone at the time (over 10 years ago, the company was sold to eBay, so Musk isn't to be blamed with what happened to Paypal since). Tesla isn't the first to make electric cars, but like Apple with the iPhone (which followed the Blackberry and others), they were the first to get so many aspects right that against all odds for a new entrant they flew past the competition. SpaceX is also in that category, and SolarCity, while not a company that Musk oversees day-to-day, is also based on that same model.
All this to say that motion detectors and 3d imaging and metal 3d printers are nothing new, but the way SpaceX is using them together is pushing things forward and I wouldn't be surprised if, outside of some R&D labs, few other companies used these things on this scale. I hope you enjoy that video as much as I did. I wish more companies would show how they do things, maybe it would inspire more young people to go into science and engineering:
All manufacturing is about moving large quantities of atoms around. This takes energy, and there's waste. But we can imagine a future where there's a lot less material waste because 3d printers only use the amount of stuff they need, thus using a lot less energy. With rapid and intuitive 3d design tools, it would also be possible to customize many more things and move beyond the mass-market, one-size fits-all era. This could mean that many more people would work in fields related to designing and customizing things (10 years ago everybody was making web-pages, 10 years from now everybody will be modifying product templates?).