The future looks so exciting when we talk about 3D printing today. No more waiting for months to get hold of the spare part of a household device that is no longer manufactured, or go through the trouble of searching for an identical lamp to replace the broken one. That’s because now you can print almost anything you like straight out of the computer with the help of high performance additive manufacturing technologies.

This is the beauty of 3D printing and it has moved a long way from being just theoretical to becoming full practical. If you look into the progress of this technology, you will discover that the application has already gone widespread. The 3D print application market now covers various segments ranging from aerospace designs to healthcare. In fact, the 3D printing technology will soon reach the zenith to earn a revenue of $8.6 by 2020.

For now it’s all about anticipation and let’s hope that the experts are right when they predict that 3D printers will become a common a device in our homes. But the promise that this technology holds in the near future is strong and there are evidences to show how this advanced system could turn the simple present into a fantastic future. Here are some of the most wonderful creations that I have seen in 2015. Go ahead. Take a look and get blown away with the ‘WOW’ factor right now!

#1 – Adidas Futurecraft 3D Sneakers

Design is at its best when innovation and technology come together. The new Adidas running shoe now has a 3D printed sole, tailored to take care of the contours and cushioning needs that every foot deserves. This is Futurecraft 3D. Wondering how the stuff works? Well, first the shoe lover will have to run on a specialized treadmill embedded with foot-scanning technologies. The scanned image will then be sent to the computer from where the image will be used to create a personalized midsole design. After the design has been complete, the file will then be sent to the 3D printer in order where the solidification work begins. The process is called Selective Laser Sinistering or SLS.

In this process, the laser helps to fuse together the powdered materials to give rise to a solid structure. After the design gets its final shape, the structure is then dusted off and enclosed in a sneaker. Voila! You have your customized pair of running shoes taken straight out of the printer. For now, the advanced technique will only be used for the manufacture of specialized shoes for athletes. However, the shoe and clothing brand is aiming to expand the scope and use of this technology to cater to the needs of the non-runners as well.

Adidas is not the only one in the league. Globally renowned brands such as Nike, United Nude and Feetz are already manufacturing custom footwears that are sporty, stylish and pretty futuristic.

#2 – 3D Printed Human Organs

All this time, healthcare had just been a prevalent theme for sci-fi TV shows and films. Remember Star Trek? Remember Elysium? Script writers and directors penned down their imagination to draw the utopian and dystopian worlds where diseases could be instantly cured, damaged organs replaced with artificially created new organs and severed limbs restored with robotically controlled prosthetics.

Well thanks to technological advancement, healthcare has been steadfast to catch up with these sci-fi fantasies. A 3D printer can now create models of various anatomical structures, which includes brains, hearts, arteries and even bones. Scientists can 3D print new implants with the help of living tissue that can grow to form organs.

Some of the usual materials that a general 3D printer can use for production are ceramics, plastics, metals, etc. Speaking of using unusual materials, it can even include living cells. The process of production is similar to that of an ordinary printer. A 3D model can be built by the laying down of flat layers on top of one another.

Production of soft materials is difficult compared to that of conventional models. This is because, while the production of conventional models might require rigid materials, 3D printing of soft objects ( like an organ) will involve building a structure out of Jell-O.

Soft materials tend to be floppy by nature and tend to deform under their own weight, which itself stands as a challenge during the printing process. One of the methods that scientists have tried to follow is building of soft materials inside the bath of a supportive fluid containing gelatin powder. The method here is to build one layer of gel inside another. This allows accurate positioning of the 3D printed soft materials in layers and makes building of complex structures easy. The technique is called FRESH or Freeform Reversible Embedding of Suspended Hydrogels. 3D bioprinting is a growing area and has allowed scientists to focus their attention towards the area of tissue engineering, which includes 3D printing cells and scaffolds to regrow organs and tissues. However, scientists are yet to bioprint organs in real for which, years of careful research needs to be done.

#3 –World’s Most Complex Jet- Powered Drone

Building of the most complex aircraft can now become simpler and faster, thus cutting down the total time for production by almost half. Take proof from the world’s fastest and the largest 3D printed drone. This Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) with a 9-foot-long wingspan is not some average play toy. The vehicle was manufactured using aerodynamic designs and other 3D printing methods. It weighs 33 lbs. and can fly at a speed of 150 mph. The model made its debut at a Dubai Airshow and is by far the “most complex 3D printed UAV ever produced”.

The methods of production used here include Fused Deposition Modelling (FDM) and Selective Laser Sinistering (SLS). The FDM additive manufacturing involves building of enclosed objects with hollowed structure. This makes the object less dense. The SLS additive manufacturing on the other hand, is the process in which small materials are heated up first before they are fused together to form an object.

Developed by Aurora Flight Sciences and Stratasys, the 3D printed drone sets a clear example that production of aircrafts with high tech manufacturing technology is much cheaper and faster compared to traditional manufacturing methods.

#4 – Bikini Scrub Bathing Suit

One does not simply dress to kill when one wears this 3D printed bikini scrub bathing suit. This is a swimming outfit that encourages wearers to contribute towards the protection and cleanliness of the seas and the oceans.

Designed by a team of engineers and designers, the Spongesuit bikini top can also absorb contaminants from the water when one goes to swim. This bathing suit is moulded using a 3D printed net-like structure, the material of which consists of synthetic rubber and recyclable padding. The material that is used for the recyclable padding is called Sponge.

The material used for the Sponge is highly porous and is made from heated sucrose, modified on a molecular level. This allows the Sponge to absorb substances such as oil and other mixtures that contaminate the water. However, the material also makes the Sponge hydrophobic that prevents from absorbing the water. The contaminants get trapped in the inner fabric of the Sponge material and hence cannot come in contact with the skin. In addition, the fabric does not release any of the trapped mixtures unless it is exposed to a temperature exceeding 1832 degree Fahrenheit. The material can be used 20 times after which, it starts losing its effectiveness. When this happens, a person can replace the old ones with new Sponge paddings. The old paddings on the other hand, can be recycled after all the contaminants have been extracted.

A unique wearable technology of its kind, the Sponge bikini scrub swim suit is the bold new step towards building a clean environment.

Forget about the future. The wave of digital fabrication has arrived! 3D printing is the era of personalized printing and the above examples are just some of the best showcases brought to you this year. Keep your eyes wide open to watch out for what’s next in 2016.