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You don’t need costly gadgets and software to turn real-world stuff into precise 3-D models—just a digital camera and Autodesk’s free 123D Catch service.

Take at least 20 photos of an object from various angles and upload them to the site, where algorithms stitch the pics into a meticulous 3-D rendering. Then polish away any errors using the editing program. You can order 3-D-printed or laser-cut models, download the data to use with your own gear, or share it online with other enthusiasts.

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