This artwork would be impossible without a 3D printer

This amazing headpiece is the work of sculptor Josh Harker, but it also owes its existence to a 3D printer.

While it might well be possible to create something this insanely complicated using more traditional means, that would have required every single element to be created separately and then painstakingly combined. These state-of-the-art printers allow something this wonderfully ornate to be produced in one fell swoop.

CNN has a fascinating piece on how 3D artwork is opening up new possibilities for artists. Here's how it describes the work of German artist Tobias Klein, whose sculpture "Immersive Embodiment" aims to combine representations of St. Paul's Cathedral with images from his own body:

Approximating the shape and dimensions of your own heart is a challenge, but Klein did not have to guess. He underwent a series of MRI scans, and then, with a few clicks of the mouse, was able to view his own heart in 3-D.He then merged that with a representation of the dome of St. Paul's and sent the design to a 3-D printer, which deposited material layer by layer to create a solid object.

The result was 'Inversive Embodiment,' a twisting, mind-boggling sculpture that links man-made architecture with the architecture of a man.

"It allows me to move into more eccentric areas," Klein says. "We see a super beautiful influx of people working with the medium. We're just seeing how far this can go."

Here's another great artwork, a winged horse marionette created by South African artist Michaella Janse van Vuuren, with "fully functional joints and movable wings," that was pre-printed complete, with no further assembly required.

This artwork would be impossible without a 3D printer

For more on just how artists are making the most of 3D printing, check out the original story at CNN.

Top image by Getty. Bottom image via Science Museum.