Dear Brian - and all of you,
Your words make sense, and I understand the arguments put forward. No problem. You are talking about a dream of "free access for all", a kind of modern ideal for the hobbyists. The reality I see, all around, now...
Currently, 3D printing at home remains a luxury, at least in France. Very few people own a good printer (rapid and economic), and users feedbacks are not very good, today, on most dedicated websites. Opinions are very divided.
3D printing only replaces, in part, the molding or foundry techniques of my generation (I'm 50). This concerns very few people. It's very different for the industrial environment, where people's qualifications and mass production make 3D printing very interesting.
In rural areas, far from the big towns, there are no printers (shops, services or associations) that are easily accessible. No friendly and direct help for us, "poor (wo)men, lost in an ocean of ignorance"... If you want a good product, it is therefore necessary to go through professionals, physically or on website, who will take a marging (plus taxes and postage), which increases the prices.
Honestly, 3D printing is far from being "a simple, affordable and democratic option", today. Too early ?
I hope I am clear enough. My intention is not to argue, but my words can sometimes be awkward in English : pardon my clumsiness.