If you walk into any sex toy store any day of the week, you’ll find at least one customer lurking around the store, quietly browsing the risqué products with his head bowed under a hood or a wide-brimmed hat. If you approached him, he’d likely scurry out of the store before you can say, "How you doin'?"

So many adults are too embarrassed to go into a sex shop and face a clerk who will raise an eyebrow at the monster-sized anal beads they brought to the counter. If you think that’s bad, think about those who don’t even order sex toys online out of fear of being bombarded with sex toy catalogs in the mail ... which could be noticed by the nosy mail carrier, or even neighbors.

But even for those who do buy sex toys, what you see (or imagine) isn't always what you get. The toy could be too big, too small, too tight, too loose, or just not the shape you’re looking for. Or maybe there's a toy you can imagine that just hasn't been manufactured.

There is a whole wide world of mass-manufactured sex toys, many of which are great. But sex toys are a personal thing, which means it's pretty hard to please everyone. And there will always be people who struggle to buy sex toys, even online.

Well, in the not-too-distant future, those problems could be mitigated by some pretty cool new technology. It's called 3-D printing and it could allow people to print their own sex toys at home - and even design them. Pretty neat, huh?

What are printable sex toys?

Printable sex toys are toys you can design and print with a 3-D printer. What’s great about them is that you can design and print out anything you want. Jonesing for a cock ring that fits your penis like a glove? Done. Looking for the perfect set of anal beads? Done. Want a dildo shaped just like your boyfriend’s shaft? Done. You can be as creative as you want without worrying about anybody judging your kinky side.

For those who aren't interested in doing the designing themselves, there are plenty of cool, creative kinksters out there making designs that can be used for printing out sex toys of all sorts (including a vibrator shaped like Justin Bieber's head). Makerlove.com, for example, has several free design plans that can be downloaded and used with a 3-D print to print up vibrators, dildos and even anal beads.

Power to the printer! Designs for this fist-shaped wonder are available at Makerlove.com ... Now why hasn't anyone else thought of this yet?

How does a 3-D printer work?

A 3-D printer takes a virtual blueprint created by computer aided design (CAD) or any type of animation modeling software and creates a solid 3-D object out of it. This is achieved by laying down successive layers of material to create a 3-D object. Such materials may include liquid, powder, paper or sheet metal. Next, the machine joins these layers together or automatically fuses them to create the final shape. The entire process can take between a few hours and several days, depending on the complexity of the design. The video below shows how a simple dildo can be printed out in less than an hour.

Time to print your own toys?

3-D printers can print in just about any type of material, including chocolate and cheese. Those could be fun materials in the bedroom (or ... not), but most high-quality sex toys are made of medical-grade silicone. Some sex toys out there are being printed are being made of polyvinyl alcohol, which is water soluble and couldn't be used with water-based lubricants. It's also porous, which isn't a good thing, particularly with toys you might use anally. Makerlove and many others use acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) a pthalate free material. It's non-porous, but because a printer can't make watertight designs (yet), the toy itself might be. (Learn more about the do's and don'ts of anal play in Why You Shouldn't Have Anal Sex.)

Life in plastic, it's fantastic. A customized dildo could soon be yours. (Note that supports may be removed after printing). Image source: Makerlove.com.

There another problem too. These printers are thousands of dollars, and while you can get one and be printing your first dildo in no time, you probably won't want to actually, um, use it. Because the resolution of these printers is still a work in progress, the toys they create are a little rough, holey and even sharp. In other words, you probably don't want them around your naughty bits - and they may even be dangerous.

Despite all this, many experts believe it won't be long before the technology for your own personal sex toy factory becomes a reality. Until then, keep on working out those sex toy schematics. One day soon, they may be more than fantasy. (If 3-D printing is the next step in sex toy history, you might want to learn about everything that happened before. Check it out in A Long, Strange Trip Through Dildo History.)