Reverse Engineering is not Just About Laser Scanning

Aug 31, 2016 -- Reverse engineering is often employed to capture design information by scanning complex surfaces. However, it is crucial to realize that the process of reverse engineering is not just about laser scanning, but it is much more beyond that. The core concept of reverse engineering is to understand the design intent of the part or product in consideration and recreate the same intent with repeatable features. This task has become a lot easier through the use of laser scanning that quickly generates point clouds. However, it is still important to thoroughly understand the objective of reverse engineering.

Consider an example of scanning an automobile brake drum consisting of simple features. While it may be easy to recreate the part through scanning in order to manufacture it, the accuracy in the model might be missing. This is mainly due to the presence of inconsistencies in the surface finish, reflectivity and errors during scanning.

3D CAD model of brake drum developed in SolidWorks by Reverse Engineering

3D CAD model of brake drum developed in SolidWorks by Reverse Engineering

The resulting model will then have errors and the final manufactured part might not fit properly in the actual assembly. This problem however can be avoided by using a pair of calipers and point measurements through CMM, enabling the creation CAD features of repeatable nature. The final CAD model will then truly represent the actual design intent of the part in question.

The reality is that these inconsistencies or features are present in almost every part or tool required to be reverse engineered. However, it is also true that not every feature falls under the same category. For such cases, using advanced scanning and measuring tools is essential. Tools like Faro Laser Line Probe attached to a Faro Arm are a winning combination to capture accurate design information. Faro Arm’s hand probe helps in checking the surfaces for errors due to reflection as well as errors that could have occurred during laser scanning process. Utilizing these tools ensures that point cloud data is accurate and the resulting surface generated in the software will have fewer inaccuracies.

The process doesn’t stop here. It is equally important to carry the point cloud data to a CAD software package like SolidWorks or Autodesk Inventor, and then create only those surfaces that are required rather than the ones that were generated due to surface inconsistency. It is only the 3D CAD model developed inside the software that defines the accuracy of the design intent rather than 3D scan.

Finally, the model developed also needs to be checked against the original part to ensure that no feature has been omitted or considered unnecessarily. This step is essential to ensure that the surface generated is not a result of manipulations performed while rectifying the errors, and is accurate to be pushed for manufacturing. At Hitech, we rigorously follow these steps to ensure that the accuracy in the CAD model is maintained for every reverse engineering project we take.

We delivered reverse engineering solution to one of the leading manufacturer of automotive aftermarket parts in US. For parts like universal joint, brake drum and brake rotor, our team calculated the dimensions using 3D scanning, CMM technique as well as manual measurement methods. Based on the details captured, CAD models were developed using SolidWorks in order to document the design information digitally. Design changes were also made in the CAD models according to client requirements, and final detailed assembly and manufacturing drawings were delivered.

What to know more about our design support for reverse engineering? Contact us or drop us an email at Email Contact.

About Author:

Kashyap Vyas is an Engineer at Hi-Tech CADD Services - Engineering Company and holds a Master’s degree in Thermal Engineering with several research papers to his credit. He covers CAD and CAE topics for the engineering industry. His contributions are primarily focused on encouraging manufacturers and suppliers to adopt virtual product development tools to build efficient products with reduced time-to-market.

Review Article
  • Thoughts on Reverse Engineering September 06, 2016
    Reviewed by 'Lu M'
    To the first order, this article does place value on RE, however, it appears the underlying message is marketing for the authors accomplishments.
    For additional thoughts on this process that often remains unsaid, please visit:

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