DOWNERS GROVE – Couples shopping for wedding cake toppers now have a much more life-like option than the generic, traditional plastic figurines.
Thanks to 3D scanning and printing technology, the miniature couple standing on top of the wedding cake can actually be an exact, 3D replica of the real bride and groom, down to the wrinkle of the dress or the swoop of their hair.
Bodastone, a new downtown Downers Grove business, is offering the service as one of the first consumer 3D scanning and printing businesses in the country.
Owner Brian Atinaja said he learned about the idea last year while planning his wedding with his wife, Mary.
"It was difficult finding a bride and groom wedding topper," he said. "Because I'm Asian and she's white. So we went to Hobby Lobby and just painted the face."
Around the same time, he read about a German company that offered 3D scanning and printing. Being that the process has to be done in person, the European firms weren't able to tap into the U.S. demand.
A year later, he's opened his business at 933B Curtiss St.
The entire scanning process takes less than a minute. The subject stands on a round turntable that slowly spins as an employee captures the image with a high-tech camera.
Nearly instantaneously, the 3D image is rendered on a computer screen in full color. From there, the customer can choose to order their ceramic figurine in any size between 3 inches and a foot tall.
For smaller subjects like children, pets or nearly anything else imaginable, Atinaja has a 25-camera setup that can take an instant scan, no rotating required.
He said the instant camera set-up is ideal for children and pets that have a harder time standing still for 45 seconds.
"We had a lady who had a dog about 14 years old, at the end of its life," he said. "She was flabbergasted, she got the same coloring of her muzzle, exactly as she is now."
He said he hopes to add about 55 more cameras to the instant scan set-up, so that he'll be able to capture full-grown adults instantly without bothering with the turn-table.
The figurines are actually made off-site by a 3D printer the size of a Volkswagon, he said.
"Historically, it's been used by architectural firms to print out their new building concepts," he said. "Or in engineering to print out their prototype."
One benefit of the turntable and single-camera set up is portability, and Atinaja sees many applications and markets beyond just weddings. For instance, Bodastone took the rig to a convention this weekend to capture comic book fanatics dressed as their favorite characters. Later this month, Bodastone will be at the DuPage County Fair.
Another example is a couple who had casts of their newborn's feet and hands. The casts were falling apart, so they took them to Bodastone for a replica before they further disintegrated.
"If someone wanted a full-size bust of their head, we could do that, too," he said. "My long-term vision would be this replaces, or becomes, the next photograph. That when somebody gets dressed up and works with a professional photographer, they'd rather have a 3D sculpture."
Bodastone Photo Sculptures
933B Curtiss St., Downers Grove
Three inch sculpture: $99 for one, $59 for each additional
Four inch sculpture: $149 for one, $89 for each additional
Five inch sculpture: $174 for one, $104 for each additional