Currently it still works this way. The key thing is when you unlock a new ability you can craft an item at the molecular printer that's better than the stock item you get when unlocking the ability. This is what really separates the Tier 1 from Tier 2 frames.
That being said, they are still working internally on the progression scheme and as always, things in beta are subject to change.
Also involved with Star Citizen. Rotating sigs take a long time to make.