Traditionally, the process of reverse engineering involved disassembling working mechanical products to understand how they work or replicate them without as much design work involved. Today, 3D scanner reverse engineering can deliver precise, accurate, and editable 3D models of existing components to test or modify them for production.
In the past, engineers had to manually dismantle products to replicate the assembly within CAD software. This process has been replaced with more efficient laser scanners, enabling users to directly transfer the shape and physical attributes of a product to design software.
With the highly accurate data from 3D scanners, physical objects can be transformed into a digital model. 3D scanners come with multiple other benefits as well, making this technology ideal for efficient production processes.
In this blog, we’ll cover the basics of reverse engineering using a handheld scanner and reverse engineering software to gain an understanding of the process.
Reverse engineering is essential for multiple applications, including manufacturing, R&D, automotive, and aerospace, and other industries, due to its convenience and variety of applications.
Advancements in technologies like 3D scanning and 3D printing have simplified reverse engineering, increasing its use across many industries.
Let’s take a look at some of the most common applications of reverse engineering.
Research and development is perhaps the most well-known application for reverse engineering. For example, the health sector utilizes reverse engineering to develop better prosthetics, synthetic organs, and other bio-engineering systems. Other sectors that reverse engineer existing products include electronics and manufacturing.
Another common company use for reverse engineering is for optimizing product designs. Designers save time when creating new and improved versions of products.
Manufacturing assembly lines on production floors require significant capital investment, so getting the longest operation possible is essential. Automated plants can sometimes use multiple legacy systems, increasing the complexity of maintenance.
A downside to this approach is that older equipment can be more prone to frequently needing part replacements, and sometimes they’re not available. Ordering custom-made parts can be prohibitively expensive for many businesses. Reverse engineered parts can solve this problem, ensuring the highest quality parts for better longevity.
Handheld scanners can enable precise 3D modeling of large objects and small objects. The scanned data can be used for CAD designs with numerous possibilities for refining and reproducing quality parts.
When it’s imperative that each measurement and dimension is as precise as possible, 3D scanning technology makes accurate models easier than ever.
Want to learn more about the benefits of 3D scanning for multiple industries? Click here.
One of the challenges engineers face with 3D reverse engineering is creating a solid CAD model that can be modified and used for other design processes like CAM or 3D printing.
3D scanning is a multi-stage process that translates physical objects into a digital mesh model. However, most CAD tools require solid models that are editable and convertible to other formats.
The 3D reverse engineering process is far different from old-school reverse engineering methods. 3D reverse engineering workflow produces a solid CAD file for virtual testing and design work, along with 3D printing and other lean manufacturing solutions.
3D reverse engineering process can be broken into five phases.
The first stage of a 3D scanning process is data acquisition through a scanner. Since 3D scanners use a combination of lasers to determine data points, transparent and reflective surfaces should be covered with a temporary matte coating. Doing that can improve the accuracy of your results and make sure unwanted objects aren’t reflected back to the scanner.
State-of-the-art, highly accurate 3D scanner devices are used to scan physical objects using lasers to map a digital mesh form that can be converted into CAD files for design work.
The refining of a 3D scan requires multiple scans of the same object to collect every detail. Initially, a mesh scan creates large data points that only register the general outline of an object. Subsequent scans will register the finer details of the object, delivering the best scan with highly accurate mesh sizing.
Once the refined mesh file has been generated, the next step is creating a CAD model from it. Converting mesh files into workable CAD files is done using 3D rendering software, which depending on the size of the object, can sometimes take considerable time.
Once you have a fully rendered CAD model to work with, you can use the data for a wide range of reverse engineering purposes like running simulations, optimizing designs, and other lean manufacturing processes relevant to the specific application and business goals.
Tangent Solutions has a results-oriented team that strives to provide the best 3D scanning services for your reverse engineering needs. We’ve been in the industry for 15 years and have the experience and testimonials to ensure you’ll always receive the best 3D scanning has to offer.
Tangent Solutions utilizes state-of-the-art 3D scanning equipment that includes multiple portable blue light scanners that enable accurate on-premise 3D scans.
We also have a team of dedicated and experienced CAD engineers that are skilled and versatile at meeting whatever needs you may have for design, rendering, and product development for your reverse engineering projects.