In three years 3D scanners have gone from $30,000 to $3,000 to—$0.00?! AutoDesk’s free 123D Catch app is now available for the iPhone and iPad. Users can take up to 40 pictures, upload them to the cloud, and receive a digital 3D model. Simply, 123D Catch is a free handheld 3D scanner as mobile as you are. Coupled with 3D modeling software and 3D printing services, Autodesk aims to bring 3D fabrication to the masses.
If you’re an architect or manufacturer or computer animator, chances are you already know Autodesk. Their 3D modeling software AutoCad—first released way back in 1982—is near ubiquitous in the professional world. But not so much at home.
Autodesk hopes to change all that with its user-friendly, free suite of 3D modeling software. The 123D Catch app was first released on the iPad in May 2012 and more recently adapted for the iPhone in early September. Added to 123D, 123D Catch (web), 123D Sculpt (iPad), and 123D Make, Autodesk has made 3D scanning, modeling, and printing as easy as 1-2-3. (Clever, huh?)
How does it work? Grab something you want to digitize—a statue or household item. Now, take 20 to 40 photos of the object from as many different angles as you can. Review your photos and replace any errant shots. When satisfied, upload the images to Autodesk’s cloud service.
Autodesk’s proprietary software will find common points between photos, extrapolate the angle each photo was taken from, and stitch them into a 3D model.
Pretty darn simple.
You can leave it at that or go further. 123D Catch models made from the iPad or iPhone are compatible with Autodesk’s 123D Catch web app.