oh i just want a nice 7 axis mill.
rapid proto typing as very slick for certain things, but barring a few type of $$$ machines it doesn't give you a truly workable part. it gives you a GREAT prototype, but once you know all the parts fit, you need to cast, machine or otherwise fabricate a "real" version.
lost foam will do that at a coarse scale (driven by resolution of foam cel density) recasting of sintered models will do that, but they tend to need support stucture, sprues, and a lot of clean up, resin based will be very detailed, but not structural, composite printing can give you various properties depending on binder and filler properties, but you're limited to materials, and deposition modeling is limited in resolution by nozzle accuracy.
if you want a block of wood, or plaster, or metal to be *exactly* what you called out, and retain it's inherent properties, you want to mill or laser it out.
and yes, the big boys, you do spend a while programming, and then you put your block in, allign it, and come back in a few hours or days to find your part sitting there shiny and bathed, and accurate to several thousandths of an inch. and with a 5 or 7 axis, you can get luke literally hanging from a chain cut from a solid block.
that said, i think a ~4'x4' table with laser, rotary tool mill, and deposition head and 3 (maybe 4 or 5) axis will give us absurd ammounts of flexibility.
in short: we build say 3 tables, with indexed sockets for different heads, and could do a laser cut sheet of ply in one bay while a block of foam is cut in another, and a teacup is dropped in the third. you need to cut a BIG foam sign, the mill goes in the big table....