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How can I make duplicates of an object using empties as placeholders? For example I have a cube as original. After that I place some empties with a certain position, rotation and scaling and then turn those empties into duplicates of the original cube?

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First select the cube and create a group Ctrl + G

Then select all your empties and go to the Properties Panel > Object > Duplication click Group and then choose the newly created group from the dropdown.

Add group instance to empty

If you have selected more than one empty, hit Ctrl + L with all of them selected and click on DupliGroup to have the Group property copied to all of them.

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