We have 3D printers that can take a description and print an object. Some 3D printers are capable of printing everything needed to make another 3D printer.

3d printer operation

This reminds me of programming language implementations.

An interpreter takes a description (a program) and prints some output. A meta-circular interpreter is an interpreter written in the same language that it inteprets.

program interpreter

With programming languages we also have compilers that translate a program into another program that does the same thing but better (smaller and faster).

program compiler

What's the equivalent for 3D printers? I think it'd be a 3D printer that prints another, more specialized printer. That specialized printer might work faster or produce higher quality output or work with materials that a general-purpose 3D printer can't work with.

3D printer that prints 3D printers

The analogy isn't perfect but I'd like to see 3D printers that print more specialized printers.

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