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Using the phone app 123D Catch, I scanned a raven skull to create a 3D printed necklace pendant and earrings. I describe the process of how to get a good 3D scan, edit the geometry in Meshmixer, and assemble the jewelry hardware.

Step 1: Scan Raven Skull With IPhone Using 123D Catch

I scanned a raven skull using the FREE Autodesk app 123D Catch with my iPhone (software also available for Android). With 123D Catch, you scan the object by taking a series of photos from different perspectives. These images are processed online and will later make available a 3D model of the object, which can be exported. You can download the software at: http://www.123dapp.com/catch

Hints for getting a good 3D scan:

  • Uniform lighting (I used a task light in this case. Since the skull is relatively small, it provided consistent light on all sides)
  • Take photos 360 degrees around the object (I did two passes around the raven skull at different heights)
  • Take enough photos, but not too many to make the online processing get overwhelmed (I took about 60 photos)
  • Photo scanning process will pick up the surface that the object is on. Flat and simple is better.
  • Photo scanning will not work well with dark, reflective, or clear objects.

Step 2: Download 3D Model From 123D Catch

After your photo scan is processed in 123D Catch, you can download the file as an .obj, .3dp, and .stl. (I downloaded the .obj file type)

Step 3: Import 3D File Into Meshmixer

It is usually necessary to "clean" the geometry of a 3D scan, since the scanning process picks up artifacts such as the table surface and other unwanted geometric noise.

To edit my 3D scan, I used another FREE Autodesk software Meshmixer. I had never used this software before and found it quite intuitive and easy to use. You can download at: http://www.meshmixer.com

With Meshmixer, you can do far more than clean up a 3D scan and you may find a whole new life to your project by cutting, merging, pushing and pulling geometry to create new forms. But, I will keep this simply as a description of how I cleaned my geometry for 3D printing.

  1. Remove the table from the skull geometry
    • Go to Edit and use the Plane Cut. You can move it up and down to select more or less.
    • Select the remaining fragments and delete.
  2. Clean up skull geometry
    • I used a variety of the Sculpt brushes to round off the parts of the skull that had been attached to the table top during the scan
    • I found flatten and reduce especially helpful.

Step 4: Export Final Skull Geometry for 3d Print

Once the 3D model has been cleaned and modified to your liking, export as .stl file type for 3D printing. You may want to resize your model to the desired 3D print size. I created one size for the necklace pendant (1/3 of the Raven Skull) and one for the earrings (1/5). I printed these using an Objet printer with Vero Clear material.

Step 5: 3D Print

Step 6: Assemble Jewelry Hardware

Tools for Jewelry assembly:

  • Drill with bits sized slightly larger than metal parts
  • Pliers for cutting metal
  • Needle-nose pliers
  • Tweezers
  • Clear, gap-filling glue (I used Bob Smith Industries "Extra Thick" Insta-Cure)

Drilling such small holes can be difficult. I found holding it by hand was the best way and just taking it slow. I also put a little glue down the hole before placing the glue covered metal part inside, making sure there was adequate glue to fill the drilled hole completely.

Step 7: All Done

Step 8: Time for Wearing!

I like the clear print since it lets light through, creating both a glow and shadow.

You can find the original 123D scan at: http://www.123dapp.com/Catch/Gabriel_AiR/2753146

Also, see attached .stl file of my raven skull pendant and earrings.

Thanks for checking out my Instructable! Happy making.

<p>This is awesome. I've just ordered a 3D pen goo.gl/izSIHt. Think I'm going to go crazy being all creative :D</p>
<p>These are gorgeous! I want a one!</p>
Looks good
good ible! Your scan came out good (had other results with my trys) and the material for print was well choosen. They look superbly!
<p>what kind of 3d printer did you use?</p>
<p>They used an Objet printer with Vero Clear material.</p>
<p>These are great. Thank you for explaining 123D.</p>
very nice..nicely explained with pictures..it unique
<p>I love the aesthetic of the jewelry! I also adore that how you printed them! Yay veganish jewelry! Thanks for sharing!</p>

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Bio: Gabriel’s work explores the intersection between ecology, infrastructure, art, and society. His investigations range from the detail to regional scale, often employing mapping, making ... More »
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