Yui Yamamoto, a nine-year old elementary student at Hanawa Hokichi Saitama Prefectural School, has never seen a snowflake.

But for the first time on Wednesday (December 11), she has touched and felt one, through figures created by a 3D printer developed by Yahoo Japan.

The printing process is not immediate and it can take up to an hour for a monochrome object to materialise out of the 3D printer that comes with voice recognition software, but the figures have expanded their imagination.

They can now imagine, using touch, precise details of objects they could only imagine vaguely in the past, when only rudimentary toys and teaching aids were available.

Just by pressing a button, the students can choose what they want to touch -- whether it is Japan's iconic Mount Fuji, rendered in three-dimensions, or a miniature elephant figure, carved with exquisite details.

Yahoo Japan which created the system in collaboration with the Special Needs Education School for the Visually Impaired of University of Tsukuba, says they have nearly 100,000 designs on their database.

The 3D printer is leased out for one-month durations to schools for the visually impaired, such as the Hanawa Hokichi Saitama Prefectural School.

Yahoo Japan says it has no immediate plans to commercialise the printer or to create another machine.

Presented by Adam Justice