About five years ago I was lucky enough to go on a tour of the Renault F1 factory. Apart from the pristine, clinical appearance of the whole place, the thing that impressed me the most was the rapid prototyping facility.
So what is rapid prototyping? Well basically it is a process where a three dimensional CAD drawing on a computer is turned into a full size, three dimensional physical component that can be test fitted to a car. The drawing is fed into a machine and a laser traces out the component in 3D in a tank of liquid plastic. The finished component then rises from beneath the blue liquid like something right out of a sci-fi film, it really is amazing to watch.
Unfortunately there were no cameras allowed in the Renault F1 facility but recently General Motors allowed Translogic in to take a look at their rapid prototyping process. Check it out: