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Capturing a 3D Object Using 123D Catch

Capturing the 3D object model of an existing object can be performed by scanners or using free software available via your web browser that calculate the physical dimensions of the object by comparing it across multiple photographs. For this demonstration, we use the 123D Catch software by AutoDesk. This software can be operated using Google's Chrome or Mozilla's Firefox browser; all you need to do is go to AutoDesk 123D Catch and launch the browser app.

You can quickly start capturing 3D objects from a collection of photographs through the process of photogrammetry. To do this, just do the following:

  1. Take photographs of the desired object from all around, at different elevations and angles, until all sides have been covered with plenty of overlapping coverage to allow the software to identify congruent characteristics.

  2. Store these photos in a folder on your local computer and then launch the web browser and navigate to: http://apps.123dapp.com/catch/.

  3. Select [Select Photos] to browse to your folder or drag-and-drop the images into the Create New Capture window. You can select multiple images by holding the Shift or Ctrl key while clicking on each until you have all of the images selected.

  4. Once you have all images selected (up to 70), select [Open] to return to the project in the 123D Catch application.

    In this demonstration, we use the 40 sample project images that are downloaded when you install the 123D Catch application itself, but any photographs you have can be used here. It's best when the lighting and rough distance between the camera and target object remain relatively stable between shots.

  5. Once your photos are identified by the application, simply select the desired resolution of the object model and select [Process Capture].

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  6. Create your free AutoDesk account or logon using an existing AutoDesk account or a social media account from the listed options.

    It may take some time to upload all of your files and initiate the capture process. Mathematically calculating the object's shape can take some time, so after an hour or so, your object will appear together with parts of the background of the object.

  7. Once the object is completed, select the file folder at the top-left of the interface (three parallel lines) and select to Export as either an .STL or .OBJ file.

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The STL file can be printed in your favorite 3D printing software, but once the object model has been created, you can use the full downloadable 123D Catch application to clean up your object, removing items from the background and Cleaning up the model. 123D Catch also allows you to Smooth rough areas, to Heal missing parts of the 3D mesh, and even to Extrude a flat base to make it easier for your printed object to stand up. Either way, you now have a 3D printable virtual object model copying the original physical object!

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