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Got a 3D printer – now what?

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The waiting game

You start by taking lots of pictures, I’ve found it works better to not drop the resolution but as everything has to be uploaded this is a balance between quality an patience. My 76 images filled 246MB of disk space so I went off and did something else while the upload did its stuff.

3D scanning

The initial stitch looks pretty good

You spend a lot of time waiting while using 123D Catch. If you change the model resolution it gets re-stitched and re-downloaded. Most functions need you to log in and there are no cookies, so you'd better not forget the password.

3D scanning

What a mesh: same image shown as a mesh in Netfabb Studio shows how poor the stitching is – click for a larger image

The image you get back looks quite good. There are holes where the stitching failed and odd bits of background but as the 3D model is mapped with the image files it quite convincing. It’s only when you load the mesh into modelling software that you see that some of the joins are really pretty dreadful.

3D scanning

You can provide the software with anchor points for stitching – click for a larger image

You can help 123D Catch by matching points between images. Typically, you use the tip of the nose, corners of the eyes and mouth, but points in the hair can be quite hard to match. Even when I’ve been very sure of the matching of points the results have been very poor. I’ve lost whole models and they are rarely better after being helped.

3D scanning

There's the Catch: you spend a lot of time looking at this screen

When you’ve matched points and uploaded them it takes about 20 minutes for the new image to be stitched and downloaded. This is not an interactive process. It’s a bit like waiting for code to compile, the first time you are glad for the break but by the third time it’s getting tiresome and you might need several goes after that.

3D scanning

It is possible to get 3D models out of 123D Catch

I’ve no doubt that with the right rig to capture the images, and taking pictures of the right kind of static objects, it’s possible to get great results from 123D Catch and you can get a much higher resolution than with the other cheap alternative.

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