123D Catch. Source: AutoDesk
123D Catch. Source: AutoDesk

123D Catch, by Autodesk, allows you to use 2D photographs, taken at various angles, to create a 3D model that you can edit, export, and 3D print. This process is called photogrammetry. There are 3 different versions of 123D Catch, all of them are free.

123D Catch Online

The online version allows you to upload 20 to 40 photos. Then the images are processed and automatically turned into a 3D model in the cloud. Once finished, you can orbit, pan and zoom your model with the view tools. You can also prepare your model for fabrication with cleanup and healing tools. Then export an STL or OBJ file for 3D printing.

123D Catch Mobile App

The 123D Catch mobile app for your iPhone or iPad is similar to the online version. The big difference is you can use your mobile device to take the pictures and manipulate your 3D model. After taking the pictures of your subject, you upload the images to the Autodesk servers where they are processed and turned into a 3D model. This process generally takes a few minutes. Autodesk then returns the 3D model to your mobile device where it can be viewed, cleaned up and stored. You can also 3D print models taken with your mobile device.

123D Catch for your PC

123D Catch also comes as a download for your PC. The download isn’t available for Mac at this time. The desktop program is more robust than the other two versions and offers more features. With this software, you can create animations, use the 3D print feature to optimize your models for 3D printing, and more.  

All of the 123D Catch applications are available athttp://www.123dapp.com/catch. You will be required to set up a username and password with Autodesk in order to fully use 123D Catch, regardless of what version you choose. When you sign in with Autodesk, you will also have access to and be able to participate in the Autodesk community.

As a member of the community, you can share files with other members and view and download their creations.

Once you export a file from 123D Catch, you can import the model into one of Autodesks’ other applications including 123D Design and 123D Make where you can edit and make changes to the object.

123D Catch is one of the easiest ways to create a 3D model from a real object. And you don’t need experience in CAD to prepare the model for 3D printing.