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Something my brother just showed me the other day and blew my mind is a free photogrammetry service from Autodesk called 123D Catch. It's REALLY good, I'm quite impressed by the quality of this. If you have no idea what photogrammetry is then read this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Photogrammetry. The cliff-notes version is you take 40 or so photos at various angles of an object and the software uses the images to figure out the geometry and applies the images to a mesh making a 3D model of the object photographed.

Here's an example I did using some engineering texts I had laying around from studying for the SE exam: http://www.123dapp.com/Catch/Engineering-Design-Books/2807914

There's an android and iphone app that works fairly well and a desktop version that works even better. The desktop version allows you to establish a benchmark dimension which will scale the mesh. From there you can apparently export it to an .dwg autocad file and/or print it out to a 3D printer. There's a crazy amount of options for this.

The downside; this software is for non-commerical use and meshes and images probably become the property of Autodesk. Still, this can be incredibly useful in my work where I'm often working in a convoluted industrial area with pipes running everywhere, pumps hiding in corners, cable trays overhead, and I'm trying to run a structural member through it all. With this I could at least have an idea of what is where and fly around the whole project. This looks like it could be a very powerful tool. I imagine there must be some crazy state-of-the-art piece of equipment that would combine this technology with LIRAR or some other EDM system for really accurate dimensions.

Anyway, what do you guys think of this technology?

Maine EIT, Civil/Structural.

RE: Photogrammetry

lidar or laser scan is what you need to generate a 3d point cloud from which you can create a 3d model of nearly anything. we have used it to model dams and open pit mines. scanner can be fixed or mounted on an ATV

RE: Photogrammetry

The Zscape (3d motion display, not their fixed 3d hologram images) product was first hinted at to me around 2008, and it's been in R+D ever since. Cool idea, but...

RE: Photogrammetry

I've seen the photogrammetry trick work in those 3d printing booths. You can get pretty good resolution/image quality with fewer images...

There are other software applications that will do the same trick (but without locking up your data), see for instance http://www.photomodeler.com/index.html

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