Joshua Kettlewell | Projects

Joshua Kettlewell

Ph.D Student,
Singapore University
of Technology and Design

Quick Prototyping with 123D catch and a 3D printer

This page is still under constructon!

This page is still under constructon!

How to quickly make a statue of your friends head superimposed on a dinosaur.


This is a write up of a little afternoon project I completed when I first arrived at SUTD and was very excited that we had free use of the 3D printers. It was kind of interesting so I'm going to give a quite write up to remember how I did everything and keep the relevant files.

So I made 2 things. The first was a Blakeosaurusrex. This was super quick, taking only about an hour from start to finish and I would recommend it to anyone with a 3D printer at hand.

  • First download 123D catch onto either your phone or PC. I only installed it on my computer.
    Then take a range of photo of your subject. I went around my friend Blake twice taking photos; once at eye level and once from slightly above him. This allows the software to work out what the top of his head looks like. I found that without the additional photos the top of the doesn't get captures and the model becomes cup shaped with a hole at the top.
  • I have my phone set up to upload all photos I take staight to dropbox anytime wifi is connected. So by the time time Ive finished taking the photos they are already synced to my PC. Once the photos are on the PC import them to 123D catch software to generate the 3D model of the head.
  • Next, I found a 3D model of a T-Rex and downloaded it from
  • Using meshmiker to cut the two models together and save the final file as an .stl for use by the 3D printers. I've learned always use a mouse when trying to use meshmixer without this I find it almost impossble to rotate the model for viewing and editing.
  • Then print! It really is that easy!


OK - this isn't too bad for an hour goofing around. But the quality isn't great. This is for 3 reasons. Firstly its because I produced a small, white print. The 3D prints arn't known for detail and a larger print, or one is a different colour, such as red, would creae better shadows and contours.
Secondly my model of Blake wasn't great. I think if I had taken more photos, from a closer distance, the 123D catch software would have made a better model.

But can we do more?

Being able to print a file in this manner is incredibly satifying, however the final piece is many on a cheap 3D printer. What I would really like is a high quality product at the end. I know I could use ceramic printer at uni, but the material is very brittle. I could also use edit the final model and slice it into layers, then laser cut each layer (a technique which one of my collegue used to produce some fantastic large printed models of a Triceratops), but want I really want to do is make is out of metal.

O.K... There is a titainium printer at the university. But its ungodly expensive to use. And I'm a student. But there is a very cheap way to make metal products - casting.

  • The second thing to make was something to use as a test for the kiln im building. For this I found two files on thingiverse. The first is was a deer skull and the second is a bust of a mariener with a rather impressive beard. Using meshmixer again I simply clipped the horns off the rams skull and attatched them to the bust. This was then printed on one of the 3D printers.
  • The next step... Take a latex mould of of the 3D print so we can work towards metal casting!

So I've been building a kiln at home/at the Uno. Why? Well I've been making a few items on some of the 3D printers in the uni, and it would be really nice if I could make them out of something other that week plastic. There is a titanium printer and a milling machine.. but I thought that the easiest way to take an item from idea to physical form maybe to do the following:

  1. Make a 3D diesign in ...
  2. 3D print the design
  3. homomorphic
  4. Make a latex cast of the design from the 3D print.
  5. latex mold
  6. Using this cast we then then make several wax models
  7. wax cast
  8. Using the wax model we then make plaster casts
  9. Then melt out the wax and fill the cast with molten metal
  10. Smash the plaster cast

Strings were added the the wax to make it easier to remove the wax later.