Capturing 3D data for 3D printing

Article by Luis Doval updated February 27, 2013


I have written several blogs about printing parts from 3D CAD models, but I still have not talked about capturing 3D data from the real world in order to reproduce it with a 3D printer.

Jim Peltier, printed in an Objet 3D printer from 123D Catch data.

A 3D model printed with a Stratasys/Objet 3D Printer from 123D Catch data.

Two of our SolidWorks experts from Javelin’s technical support group did an interesting and quite inexpensive experiment. Dr. Irfan Zardadkhan and Jim Peltier captured 3D data from the real world using a free app from their iPhone.

Some recommendations if you want to capture 3D data using your iPhone:

  • Avoid glossy or transparent models.
  • Take as many pictures as possible, it will provide more details and accuracy to your model.
  • Try to use a reference background (i.e. a square pattern or a chess board).
  • Take the pictures from different angles.
  • Avoid models with holes or areas difficult to reach by the camera.

123D Catch uses your iPhone as a basic 3D scanner. By taking several pictures of an object and interpolating the colour information it can create a quite acceptable 3D model. You export the model as an STL file and then the Stratasys/Objet printer does its job. You can see the results here:

Jim Peltier holding his own statue

Jim Peltier holding his own 3D Printed Statue

Do you recognize this guy? Of course, he is our SolidWorks expert Jim Peltier. Who’s next?

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Luis Doval