3D printing clearly has a ton of potential when it comes to revolutionizing home manufacturing for both creators and consumers, but there’s also no denying that we’re still a ways from mainstream penetration — where the average person is able to print everything from dinnerware to working electronic devices on the fly (…damn you, future people).

Luckily for us, today’s experiments gradually take us closer to future practicality and provide a glimpse at what’s coming. This is the case with Disney Research and its new experiments with printed optics. As you’ll see in the video and pictures below, 3D printing has the potential to enable functional and interactive objects to be built on the fly — instead of just interesting models and prototypes.

As NOTCOT notes, the projects featured below require the creator to interrupt the printing process to insert electronics. If that procedure could someday be automated seamlessly, there’s very little limits to what can eventually be produced.

Take a peek at some of the bulbs below:

1 520x323 Get ready to gush over these 3D printed lightbulbs from Disney Research

2 520x324 Get ready to gush over these 3D printed lightbulbs from Disney Research

4 520x323 Get ready to gush over these 3D printed lightbulbs from Disney Research

There’s tons of potential for the technology shown above to be used in interesting ways. For example, Disney seems to be very interested in printing interactive toys.

Screen Shot 2012 10 02 at 6.17.12 PM 520x284 Get ready to gush over these 3D printed lightbulbs from Disney Research

For more on this awesome project, check out the research paper and additional photographs via the link below:

➤ Printed Optics via NOTCOT

Note: Disney Research is no stranger to incredible, experimental projects.