3D printing has hit the spotlight in recent years, becoming more advanced and more accessible and therefore resulting in an abundance of new uses for the technology. Not only can it be used to print toys, small objects and models, it can now also be used to create things on a much larger scale using various materials.
From houses and cars to body parts and pizza, here's our pick of the seven coolest things being 3D printed around the world. See also: Print 3D objects at home.
Coolest 3D-printed objects: Houses
Scientists in California claim to have developed a huge 3D printer that can build a 2,5000-square-foot concrete house in 24 hours.
The process is called "Contour Crafting," which squirts out concrete layer by later to build the house quickly and without the need for construction workers.
The technology could be used to build emergency, low-income and commercial housing, and could even help build structures on other planets, according to the project's website.
Coolest 3D-printed objects: Fashion items
3D printing is also being used to create fashion items, from accessories such as jewellery and bags to dresses and high heels.
Earlier this year, New York designer Michael Schmidt and architect Francis Bitonti unveiled the world's first fully articulated 3D-printed dress, worn by burlesque dancer Dita Von Tesse.
Plus, you'll find that there are various 3D-printed high heels available to buy, including the solid black wedge design by Continuum, as shown below.
Coolest 3D-printed objects: Toys
Toys and models are probably the most commonly seen 3D-printed items, and we expect such objects to become increasingly more popular following the launch of Amazon's 3D-printing store.
Our particular favourites, though, include Crayon Creatures and Makies. Crayon Creatures (shown above) is a service that turns children's drawings into figurines, while Makies are dolls that you can design yourself.
Coolest 3D-printed objects: Camera lenses
A photographer has 3D-printed a camera lens, using acrylic to replace the glass. You can see the lens itself below, and some of the photographs captured using the lens here.
Coolest 3D-printed objects: Pizza & chocolate
NASA has been investigating better ways to feed astronauts, and one of those ways is to simply 3D print meals. Mechanical engineer Anjan Contractor has developed a prototype 3D printer that can print a pizza using the various ingredients required.
Additionally, The Hershey Company has agreed to a multi-year development agreement with 3D systems to create a variety of chocolate and non-chocolate products and consumer and professional 3D food printers, so even our desserts could be 3D printed soon.
Coolest 3D-printed objects: Body parts
One of the most incredible and inspiring uses of 3D printing is within the medical industry, where the technology can be used to actually print body parts, prosthetics and exoskeletons to save and enrich lives.
Scientists are even able to make ears, kidneys, blood vessels, skin grafts and bones. Wow.
Coolest 3D-printed objects: Cars
We're still waiting for the flying cars we were promised by Back to the Future (it's nearly 2015, you know), but for now we'll have to settle for 3D printed cars instead.
One such car is the Urbee 2 (below), which is set to make a trip across the United States next year.
Local Motors hosted a 3D Printed Car Design Challenge, in which 206 designers entered their designs. The winner's car (shown at the top of this article) is set to be printed and shown off at the International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago in September.