Autodesk ReMake to 3D Print: Replicate the World Around You

What Would You 3D Print If You Had a Model of Anything Around You?

ReMake is Autodesk’s consumer-focused foray into the world reality capturing. As the term “reality capturing” implies, ReMake’s purpose is to take objects in your surroundings and turn them into digital files that you can use for pretty much any purpose. In this post, I will show you how to 3D print them!

Previous approaches to this concept from a variety of different companies were gimmicky at best. Low resolutions and poor capture results deterred many from capturing their surroundings, and oftentimes users were required to puchase specialized hardware such as an Xbox Kinect to get captures to work. ReMake allows you to create extremely high resolution meshes from photos taken on your smartphone. The technique of taking photos and turning them into a 3D model is called photogrammetry.

For example, check out the following GIF:

Using just the camera on my iPhone 7, I was able to capture a model detailed enough for you to read the engraving on a life-size statue. Not bad! This isn’t just reading the engraving from the photo texture — this engraving is actually a part of the mesh that makes up the model.

In this next section I’m going to show you step by step how you can make your own 3D-printed models from things you capture in your environment.

The first thing to do is download ReMake. If you are a student, you can get all of the pro features of ReMake for free as long as you have an Autodesk Education account. You can download the education version of ReMake here: FREE FOR STUDENTS AND EDUCATION.

All other users can try the free verison of ReMake. It is a little bit handicapped by the restriction of only being able to upload 50 photos, but 50 photos is enough for most models. You can download the regular version of ReMake here.

Unfortunately, ReMake for Mac is no longer supported. I tried everything to get ReMake to run inside of macOS, such as boxing it in Winebottler and running it inside of various virtual machines. After no success I had to install Windows 10 on my Mac via Boot Camp. Hopefully Autodesk brings back the Mac version!

If you want to follow along with my tutorial you can download the photo package I used to create the sample model. The photo package can be found here. These photos were captured at a church in Melsungen, Germany.

Download the ZIP file, extract it, and take a look at the photos inside. As you can see, I went around my subject and captured photos at regular intervals. Before we proceed, I highly recommend that you watch the following video. In it, the ReMake team explains the best practices for capturing photos of your subject.

Now you can open up ReMake. At the top left of the main window is an option to create a 3D model from photos. Select this, then select “online,” then finally local disk. Navigate to the folder of photos and select all of them. Lastly, press the button at the bottom-middle of the screen, give your model a name, and click start! ReMake will then upload all of your photos and within an hour or two it will return your finished model.

Your model will most likely look exactly the same as the one I show you below; however, Autodesk is continuously making enhancements to their algorithm, so some differences are possible.

Now comes the task of cleaning up your returned model. Select the finished model from the section at the bottom of ReMake, choose a download location, and open the .rcm file. I prepared a video to show you how the process of cleaning up the model actually works, but I will also go through it step by step below. Watch the video, then read on.

Hopefully my video gave you a better understanding of the overall process. I will list the required steps below for your convenience.

When you open up your model a scene like this should appear. With autocrop turned off, your model will have a lot of superfluous material around the outside. If you turn on autocrop, the Autodesk photogrammetry algorithm should remove much of the material surrounding the tablet in the center.

To navigate around the model I recommend a three-button mouse. Using the scroll wheel will zoom in and out. Pushing and holding the scroll wheel button will allow you to pan. To orbit around the model press and hold the right mouse button.

To remove this material the first thing you need to do is highlight the tablet using the rectangular selection tool. You can find this in the toolbar at the bottom of the screen.

Press the invert selection button in this same toolbar (if you highlight your mouse over the buttons a tooltip will appear telling you what they do). Lastly, press the pencil icon in the toolbar on the side of the screen then select “Delete Selection.”

This should leave you with a small border around the outside of the tablet. Don’t worry, we will remove this soon!

Before printing the model there’s a bit of clean-up work to do. Press the pencil icon again but this time choose the hole fill tool. Click on any holes you see in the model then click the “smooth” button to fill them in. There is an automatic process that does this but I like to do it manually to see where the problem areas are.

Currently, the model is just a mesh sheet with no real depth. To remedy this you can use the slice tool to fill in the tablet and add dimension. The slice tool also will cut off the border around the outside. Press the pencil icon and select slice and fill. Then enable transform plane, and use the transform tools to drag the plane so that it is parallel to the top and bottom of the tablet and cutting about halfway up the model.

The rings allow you to perform fine adjustments on the plane in its various axis and the colored nubs on these rings will move the plane in larger discreet steps. When it’s oriented correctly, press apply. Depending upon the speed and graphics capability of your computer this process may take a while.

Next we’re going to perform some final checks on the model. Press the 3D print button in the toolbar on the right side (you don’t need to have a printer connected, this is just to check the model). ReMake will ask you if you want to check for print issues. Select yes.

The algorithm will most likely find something wrong. The only things to really worry about are particles and holes. Intersections (problems with the surface geometry) generally have no affect on 3D-prints. If there are particles allow the diagnostic tool to delete them, and if there are holes allow the tool to fill them.

Lastly, press the export button and select 3D model. Mouse over to the advanced tab, choose STL as the filetype, and change the decimation to 50%. Some models created by ReMake can actually be incredibly large (file size not physical size). Most 3D printers will not be able to render the majority of the details on the model sufficiently, so for larger models you can use even higher decimation percentages.

Hit export, and find a place to save your STL. You now have a fully-prepared model to use in your 3D printing program of choice! Most likely your model will be scaled incorrectly, so you will inevitably have to change the scale and orientation inside of your print utility before printing. Programs that offer the ability to lay the model flat on the printbed, such as Cura, are invaluable in this situation.

Hopefully this post helped you get a better understanding of reality capturing software and how you can capture and print things in your environment. If you do end up printing something, post the photo in a response below! To view more of my work check out my Medium profile and my website, www.AlexWulff.com. I also have a number of electronics projects that I post over at Hackster: https://www.hackster.io/AlexWulff

I'm a Harvard student, maker, and radio enthusiast. Check out my book on radio communications at amzn.to/341cywA and my website at www.AlexWulff.com