A transformation in the pace of economic growth can be achieved even without nanofactories. These pre-nanofactory methods would transition well to a world with nanofactories when they do arrive.
A coordinated effort by research, companies and government could be made to plan and develop Rapid Automated Manufacturing by 2030. There could be an increase in economic growth into the 10-20% per year range even for developed countries like the USA. Technology roadmaps and planning would be needed to perfect materials, supply chains, real time monitoring, approval processes and deployment of the technologies and methods listed below, the world could transition to radically faster economic growth. It would take a lot of work to get everything coordinated to have this effort scale and transform each of the industries in order for nationwide growth rate to move a bunch. It would be exactly like the societal transformation to mass production and industrialization back in the early 1900s. Education, Industry and government and society would all have to adapt. The carrot is after you do it in a few decades your nation is a hundred times richer than it would have been if it had not been done.
Contour crafting (scaling up inkjet/rapid prototyping up to making buildings) Use cement as the ink. Layer by layer additive construction. 200 times
faster than conventional methods. 5 times lower cost for construction. It can use insitu (dirt and water that is already on site) materials. Adding a step for applying spray on solar power would also be an evolutionary improvement. (It would also be safer than having workers install rooftop solar panels.)
Print private houses first, then multi-story buildings and then bridges, roads and everything else.
Inflatable electric cars. Flatship cars from a factory like Ikea furniture and could be as cheap as $2500 for an environmentally friendly car.
Reel to reel production of electronics can be hundreds to thousands of times faster than current lithography factories for making computers and factories for making electronics, televisions, video monitors.
Reprap is an inexpensive fabrication system that can now self-replicate. The machine can make another copy of itself and construct other devices.
Lunar dust + epoxy + carbon nanotubes = lunar cement
Note: only water is whatever is in the epoxy. New materials can help enable wider use of rapid automated manufacturing.
Desktop Factory says per-cubic-inch printing costs will hover somewhere around $1. The Desktop Factory 3D printer builds robust, composite plastic parts that can be sanded and painted when desired. Their goal by 2011 is to have their 3D printer below $1000.
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
Known for identifying cutting edge technologies, he is currently a Co-Founder of a startup and fundraiser for high potential early-stage companies. He is the Head of Research for Allocations for deep technology investments and an Angel Investor at Space Angels.
A frequent speaker at corporations, he has been a TEDx speaker, a Singularity University speaker and guest at numerous interviews for radio and podcasts. He is open to public speaking and advising engagements.