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updated: 12/28/2012 11:36 AM

St. Charles business makes your image 3-D

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  • George Walrath, left, and Dominic Vallone are co-founders of 3D FigureWorks in St. Charles.

    George Walrath, left, and Dominic Vallone are co-founders of 3D FigureWorks in St. Charles.
    Courtesy of 3D FigureWorks


North Aurora resident George Walrath, CEO and co-founder of 3D FigureWorks in St. Charles, aims to make you, or even your pet, into a 3-D star.

He's using a proprietary technology system that takes your image and reproduces it into a 3-D product of your choice. He creates everything from refrigerator magnets to models -- or larger items.

The process is similar to being in a photo booth, but instead of receiving a traditional photo, you come away with a miniature figure, Walrath said.

"I just love technology and it's amazing when you can do things not done before or at least improve upon a process," he said. "We offer a level of realism not achievable before."

The business started about two years ago in his basement with co-founders Dominic Vallone of Wood Dale and Russ VanDrunen of south suburban Crete. The business then launched in September at Charlestowne Mall in the center atrium between Gymboree and Von Maur.

The process begins when the subject sits in a photo studio and eight cameras capture the image simultaneously in about one second. The software builds the 3-D image and it's sent to the printer, which looks similar to an office photo copy machine. The image is built with a powder that is compressed into one layer at a time. Then color is added and the product is finished as a duplicate of the person, he said.

Prices vary, but can start at $25 for a simple refrigerator magnet of your face to several hundred dollars for larger pieces. The product can be completed in one to three days, depending on its complexity.

The system has caught on and some customers have requested similar products of their favorite pets, he said. So during January, the business plans to offer pet events.

Walrath said he's aiming to expand the business by offering franchises in other states while keeping the manufacturing of the products in St. Charles.

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