Full disclosure: the conventional bracket was stamped in a press and then laser-welded by robots. It took about a three-car garage's worth of space, an easy $250k worth of tooling and probably 12 minutes to make. The 3d-printed bracket was laser sintered in a powdered-aluminum Selective Laser Sintering 3d printer that's about the size of a dishwasher and cost about a million and a half dollars. It also took prolly 30 hours.
So we're not there yet? But it's interesting to see where it might go. That 3d bracket, for example, could be sand-cast without too much drama.
I've become very interested in generative design lately. We had Autodesk over at our company the other day to talk about it, and after playing with the tools for a bit I've become convinced that it could revolutionize urban developments and urban design. Urban design is about figuring out what to do with a place, designing for stakeholders' desires while taking (policy) limitations into account. That has always sounded like an optimization problem to me, with constraints (policy) and goals to maximize or minimize (in the GM case lightness/cost/etc, in our case project cost/sustainability/...). I found the Alkmaar example here absolutely mesmerizing, and I'm arranging meetings with the company that did the pilot. If it still looks interesting after hearing what happened when the rubber met the road, I'm gonna be the one to helm our expedition into generative design.