Printing 3-D figures on Main Street: Alhambra residents open print shop

The CoKreeate 3-D print shop, which opened on Main Street in November, started in an Alhambra garage in 2013. Not long after launching their company, Alhambra residents Will, Andy, and Jewelyn Co partnered with Stan Lee to create 3-D portraits of the comic book writer. They also worked with professional wrestler William ‘Brimstone’ Kucmierowski to produce the first ever 3-D printed comic book cover.

(L-R): Andy, Jewelyn, and Will Co

Now the family business—Andy and Will are brothers and Jewelyn is Will’s wife—is selling figurines and other custom products in Alhambra and will be offering crash courses on 3-D printing in the coming year. 3-D printers will be the “new computer” for the next generation and CoKreeate is primed to be a part of that innovation, according to Will Co.

We visited the shop to learn more about 3-D printing and what the Alhambra shop can create. The Cos even printed a 3-D bust of our reporter! Read more about CoKreeate below.

What is 3-D printing?

Andy Co: This new form allows you to take a 3-D .cad file and print it out within hours, as opposed to weeks or months. People make things they want to make, such as a missing doorknob. You can make your own design, and it allows you to think outside of the box.  Honestly, the sky’s the limit. If you have an idea, you can make it. 

Will Co: You need to know how to do 3-D modeling. That’s what’s most important. You can’t buy a 3-D printer and start getting your 2-D images to pop out, it doesn’t work like that. You need to have a little 3-D digital modeling background.

What materials do you use?

WC: These machines use biodegradable and standard plastic, but it varies. Our bigger printer that prints full color uses more of a sandstone material, gypsum powder. That’s in a warehouse.

Do you help customers with 3-D modeling? 

WC: Yeah, we do 3-D scanning, printing, modeling. If you have something that you have in 2-D, we can model it in 3-D. So we try to be an all-in-one shop for consumers.

AC: We have a really good team. We’re really good friends with a couple of 3-D printers, so we’re going to be selling their printers. Materials, we have a lot of contacts. Designers, we have a lot of in-house designers. Whatever we send them, they’ll do.

What are your popular products?

WC: Definitely figurines.

Jewelyn Co: We scanned a few well-known people, like Larry King, Eddie Bravo, MMA fighters, the co-founder of the UFC.

AC: Architecture students also bring their files in. They have some crazy designs, so it varies.

A 3-D printer creates a snowflake. | Photo by Kyle Garcia

Why did you choose to open your business in Alhambra? 

WC: Because we want to support the city that we live in. Andy and I grew up in Alhambra, and Jewelyn lived in Montebello before moving to Alhambra. Our kids go to school here, so we want to educate them about 3-D printing.  It’s one of those industries that people need to be educated about. People hear about it but they never see it. So we want to be that company where you can check out the printers and learn stuff. 

What made you interested in 3-D printing?

WC: 3-D printing is not new technology; it’s been around for 20-30 years. But it catered to commercial interests and people with money. About two-and-a-half years ago, it started booming because the patent of certain systems expired and people started making their own printers. So that got me interested.

A Japanese company was scanning people and I told my little brother, “You know what, we got to get into this business as soon as possible and be one of the pioneers.” So we invested our money and worked together. Late nights.

We had no 3-D background, no modeling background. We’re all from different industries. But we picked up and learned what we needed to get where we are right now.

You are small compared to larger 3-D printers. How have you been competing? 

WC: We can’t slow down, basically. You slow down, then someone’s going to come in and catch up.

There are big companies out there with a lot of money and investors. They can buy a $100,000 machine, no problem. We can’t. But with what we’ve accomplished, I feel like we can play with the big boys now. They know who we are. And we want them to know who we are, because we want them to know that anyone can do this. You don’t need to have a lot of money; you just need to have the right people to guide you. If you believe in yourself, you can do it.

JC: We started just very small, very limited with budget. In a garage, late nights, at home, 7 days a week. For the 3-D scanning, we offered to be portable so we could go to the customer and scan them for their figurine.

3-D portrait of Stan Lee (left) and other figurines | Photo by Kyle Garcia

What are your future goals? 

WC: We want to franchise ourselves. We want to open more shops and teach people about 3-D printing.

Is there anything you would like to teach our readers about 3-D printing? 

AC: We definitely want them to come see the capabilities. A lot of people think they just use it to print random items or gadgets. They don’t see it as a utility. If you’re at home and you break something, you can make a replacement. Not a lot of people see that.

People also think 3-D printing costs thousands of dollars. But as soon as you tell someone the price, they’re like “Oh, that’s it?”

JC: It’s like a new technology or a new era of photography. Right now, it’s fairly new to people.

WC: We want the people of Alhambra to come down. The door is open to you guys. If you have questions, ask us. It’s not like buy something or get out. It’s about showing you what 3-D printing is. 

CoKreeate is located at 410 W. Main St., Unit 221, and is open Monday-Friday 10:30 a.m.-7 p.m., Saturday 11 a.m.-5 p.m., and Sunday 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Prices for busts and figurines start at $150. For more information, visit the CoKreeate website

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