Is there the equivalent of short run print-on-demand services for plastic items?

Is there an economical way to get a small number of plastic widgets made these days? In the past, you had to enlist specialists and have large contract orders with fabrication factories (i.e. large capital resources) to get them done. Is there the equivalent of short run print-on-demand services in terms of the manufacturing of plastic widgets? If not, what are the technological hurdles that need to be overcome to make this happen?

Rapid prototyping is the only way I’m familiar with. Picture a plastics machine shop with a CNC/CAD machine doing most of the work. This is gonna run a bit of money but for very short runs, it might work out best.

At the tail-light factory where I worked, we’d make small batches of Euro-spec lenses for exported cars. (Euro lenses had to have turn signals in amber, and didn’t allow reflective sections in tail-lights, for example) So, mold dies were made out of a softer metal for the short runs. After a few hundred shots, they were useless, but it was cheaper to do it that way.

There are small-volume molding shops that make small runs for even the big car companies. Also, there’s those outfits that make a couple thousand Bob Uecker bobble-heads.

I think that eMachineShop might be a good match for what you’re looking for.

EMachineshop seems pretty cool, but it’s still pretty pricey for a non-commercial, non-business user.

it might help if you are more specific. “Plastic” covers a wide range of materials with different properties. It would also were most specific about the object and quanity. It may very welll be that other materials and methods may be better but no way to tell if you just say "I want to make a bunch of things out of stuff

Could you perhaps cast it yourself out of resin?