Autodesk 123D

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A kangaroo toy I captured using 123D Catch.

Autodesk 123D is a set of CAD modelling tools created for hobbyists where they can create and share models online. The service is fairly similar to Trimble Sketchup / Warehouse, but one thing that differentiates Autodesk here is 123D Capture - an easy to use iPhone application which allows you to make fully textured 3D reconstructions of any real world object by simply taking 20-40 photos of it from different angles. Once you've taken the photos, it uploads them to a server which reconstructs the model (such as the one picture on the right), and allows you to share it. This is incredible technology, and something I wish I had ages ago - beats trying to draw a 3D model by hand! The reconstruction is never perfect - especially if you have a complex object such as one with holes or windows - but if you have a relatively simple object it does a pretty darn good job! On this page I have some tips on how to create and print such models in 3D. :)

To see other 123D creations go to: "explore 123D shared models".

Making a 3D Printout of Your 123D Model

Lots of people use 123D capture to make a 3D reconstruction of themselves. Whatever you capture though, something fun is to create a 3D printout. There are a number of services that do 3D printouts, but here I'll focus on using I've written an article about shapeways and how to use it here:

At the time of writing, 123D's only export option has you download your model as an STL file with 4 JPG textures. I have no idea why it splits your model in 4 textures, but that's what you get.

Exporting 123D to Shapeways - Without Color

Most shapeways print materials (plastic, acrylic, metal, glass, etc) don't need any textures/color information, but you will need to resize your model to an appropriate size for printing and export it as either an OBJ or VRML. This should actually be pretty simple: download the STL from the Autodesk 123D site, open in a 3D modelling application, delete the textures, change the scale and then export it as an OBJ file and load that into Models are charged per volume and fitting your model within a 5 cm cube is a good size to start with. Most 3D modelling programs should do this, I suggest Blender (the free option) or my favorite, Cinema 4D.

Exporting 123D to Shapeways - With Color

If you want a color printout the process is a little involved because shapeways is very specific in that it needs a WRML file with a single JPG texture to do a "color sandstone" printout.

See Also