Make 3D prints using your own photos for free

Time was, making a high definition 3D model from a lowly 2D photograph was the stuff of a mad man's dream… or at least a wealthy studio with all the latest tech.

Times have changed, and the software behemoth Autodesk has released the beta version of Memento, a free desktop/cloud-based solution that effortlessly converts your photos into high definition 3D models, quickly, ready for 3D printing.

The idea has been around for a bit - Autodesk already released the iPad app 123D Catch. What's exciting about Memento is it promises to be user-friendly for beginners with professional results. And it's free (for now).

Download Memento free

The software can stitch hundreds of photos, taken from all angles of an object, and generate a 2-billion-polygon mesh.

It can also clean the mesh to produce a model that you can export for printing. (Have a look at the full breakdown of the process.)

This isn't just for 3D hobbyists though. If you know what you're doing, you can edit and manually alter the mesh by slicing, smoothing and filling holes.

Or just let Memento do it all for you automatically.

The final model can be ready within an eye-watering three hours, thanks to all the complicated processing occuring in the cloud, not on your computer.

Make 3D prints using your photos for free

It's not just for 3D prints and horse heads. It can be used to measure the growth of coral too!

Experts will understand Autodesk when it declares the tech process will provide a 'high technology stack' with 'out-of-core' visualisation and a 'algorithmic tool stack'.

For the rest of us: it'll take no more than 20 minutes for someone with no previous 3D knowledge to be confidently using Memento to create their own 3D printable models.

Make 3D prints using your photos for free

The Smithsonian museum is already using Memento to log its many pieces of ancient loot

And it's currently free - so go have a play - though Autodesk has plans to start charging before the end of the year. It's also only available for Windows, though a Mac version is coming soon.

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Beren Neale
Edom Editor

Beren has worked on creative titles at Future Publishing for over 13 years. Cutting his teeth as Staff Writer on the digital art magazine ImagineFX, he moved on to edit several creative titles, and is currently the Ecommerce Editor on the most effective creative website in the world. When he's not testing and reviewing the best ergonomic office chairs, phones, laptops, TVs, monitors and various types of storage, he can be found finding and comparing the best deals on the tech that creatives value the most.