December 18, 2006
Reverse Engineering With SolidWorks And Inventor
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Jeff Rowe - Managing Editor

by Jeff Rowe - Contributing Editor
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A simplified workflow for the feature-based scanning and data manipulation process consists of the following products for performing the basic steps: MicroScribe MXàDezignWorksàSolidWorks (or Inventor).

When you start a new part or assembly in SolidWorks, the Dezignworks toolbar is displayed that has four groups of tools that you will use to ultimately transform a feature-based scan into a SolidWorks solid model.

The touch probe is used to scan (digitize) the outside contour of a part. Select the Front plane and start a sketch. On the DezignWorks toolbar, select the Line tool and the type of compensation you want to use based on how you will be moving around the part to capture points during the feature-based scanning process. Like a sketch, you see lines of the contours being generated as you re-position the touch probe from point to point. When you have digitized the entire outside contour of the part, use SolidWorks’ Trim/Extend tool to create a closed contour.

Next, extrude the 2D sketch into a 3D solid using the Extrude tool on the DezignWorks toolbar. Move the touch probe to the top of the part and capture data based on the position. You have just created an extruded boss that is the height of the physical part. By scanning other features on the part, you can now create cuts, such as holes and slots. These features are created on your model from the scanned data using various tools on the DezignWorks toolbar, such as 2D Geometry (line and circle) and 3D Geometry (extruded cut).

You continue this process for digitizing features until all of them have been scanned, manipulated, and digitally transformed into a native, 3D feature-based SolidWorks solid part model. It really is as simple as that.

Although my experience so far with relatively simple reverse engineering using DezignWorks has been with SolidWorks, I suspect that the experience with Inventor would be largely the same. However, I’d like to test that statement out before committing to it. In any case, I found the reverse engineering techniques using DezignWorks to be comprehensive, straightforward, and, ok, fun. What a good way to end the year.

The Week’s Top 5

At MCADCafé we track many things, including the stories that have attracted the most interest from our subscribers. Below are the five news items that were the most viewed during last week.

PTC announced that Audi Sport, the motorsports division of Audi AG, will shortly complete its 11th consecutive year of motor sports partnership with PTC. Audi Sport deploys PTC's Product Development Solution - including Pro/ENGINEER and Windchill - to develop its winning race cars for both the German Saloon Masters, as well as the program with the Sport Prototype, including the "24 Hours of Le Mans." Windchill PDMLink has been deployed to capture and manage all product development information to increase engineering productivity for the Audi Sport development teams. It also enables collaboration between the Audi Sport team and the Audi brand
group as part of their ongoing technology transfer.

Engineered to deliver performance, the Quadro FX 3500M with support for OpenGL and DirectX, offers up to 512MB G-DDR3 memory, a 256-bit memory interface, up to 38.4GB/s memory bandwidth and up to 2GB/s pixel read back. The Quadro FX 3500M includes adaptive power management tools for performance scalability and visualization of the most extensive datasets at the highest image quality. This new Quadro FX graphics solution is available immediately as an option on the Dell Precision M90 system, the most powerful mobile workstation ever offered by Dell, for an additional $399. The Dell Precision M90 features Intel Core 2 Duo processors, large memory configurations, 17-inch
displays, and can be configured with 32- or 64-bit Microsoft Windows XP Professional.

UGS Corp. announced a partnership with Telelogic that has resulted in the PLM industry's first integrated solution for managing the complete lifecycle of software content. This "software lifecycle management" solution -- the result of the integration between Teamcenter software and Telelogic Rhapsody software -- extends Teamcenter's mechatronic PLM capabilities to include software development. Telelogic enters the UGS Partner Program as a Foundation partner. The new Teamcenter-Rhapsody solution integrates the Unified Modeling Language (UML) with PLM. This brings together requirements and lifecycle management with software systems design and automated code
development, thereby extending UGS' solution set for managing the complete lifecycle of electro-mechanical software product definitions.

CoCreate Software announced its next major release, the 2007 CoCreate OneSpace Suite, available in early 2007. The 2007 CoCreate OneSpace Suite is a comprehensive product development platform for PLM. Using a lightweight approach (versus a monolithic system) CoCreate leverages customers' existing IT investments in upfront product planning and downstream manufacturing systems to create an interconnected enterprise. CoCreate's solution complements ERP systems -- rather than competes with them – and is termed “3rd generation PLM” by the company. The path to 3G PLM starts with CoCreate’s Dynamic Modeling based approach to 3D product development. The
2007 CoCreate OneSpace Suite is tuned for companies that must adapt to unpredictable change and new requirements throughout the product development cycle. Allowing companies to rapidly learn and respond in fast-paced markets has propelled CoCreate to its position as a provider of history-free modeling.

The IntelliCAD Technology Consortium (ITC) announced the beta version of IntelliCAD 6.3. IntelliCAD 6.3 uses the latest advances in the Open Design Alliance (ODA) DWGdirect 2.1.1 libraries, based on the industry standard OpenDWG, which is widely supported by commercial software vendors, and the engineering community. IntelliCAD 6.3 utilizes the new ODA libraries to enable reading and writing of the DWG 2007 file format. IntelliCAD will read, display, and write DWG 2007 files that include the 10 new 2007 entity types and over 80 new system variables. Although the focus was on DWG 2007 compatibility, a few major enhancements can be found in this release, including:

  • Improved user interface for PDF export provides more flexible output options.

  • Dozens of new events and a new ApplicationPreferences object were added to the COM API.

  • A new Set Language command allows you to convert drawings or set your code page language preferences when opening drawings.

  • Multiple enhancements for raster image handling.

  • Jeffrey Rowe is the editor of
    MCADCafé and MCAD Weekly Review. He can be reached at or 408.850.9230.

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    -- Jeff Rowe, Contributing Editor.


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