Seems kinda limiting. When I look at these machines I see the potential to make all sorts of stuff that normally I would have to contract out to a machine shop (which for 1 or 2 of an item is not very cost effective)... but if the thing is going to start breaking down after a few months or years that kinda limits applications.
The two standard printing materials for the RepRap family of printers (and their descendants, like the MakerBot) are the biodegradable PLA, and standard petroleum-based ABS. PLA will degrade over time, but only under certain environmental conditions; it's unlikely to fall apart in normal use (most industrial thermophilic composting processes run at pretty high temperatures (60C and up). I guess you probably shouldn't use it to print an industrial composter.
ABS is ABS, and whatever you make with it will be around forever, so print your PLA composter with this instead.
Ha ha ha.
The language in the book is an essential part of the storytelling. I generally don't like that sort of thing either; however, Hoban used it very intentionally as a pacing device, as well as to reveal things to the reader that the limited narrator didn't understand. It's very effective, although it does take some getting used to.
Yes, we will be going to OSI, Mars, and Pluto, but not necessarily in that order. -- Jeffrey Honig