What is Reverse Engineering (RE)
The terminology is used to describe the digital process of re-engineering or replicate an existing physical part.
In ‘normal’ engineering, the engineer will design an object as 3D using Computer-Aided Design system and by producing engineering and manufacturing drawings will be able to produce it.
In Reverse Engineering, the process starts from the existing component, which will be 3D scanned and digitalised to a 3D computer model to reach the final destination of the manufacturing and product specifications.
Why we use Reverse Engineering
An object can be 3D scanned and Reverse Engineered for one or some of the following reasons;
• It is unique
• It has an extremely complex geometry
• It is a legacy object
• For parts that need to be remodelled and tested in order to demonstrate design optimisation.
• For analysing and inspecting competitors’ products
• For tools, jigs and fixtures manufacturing
• To analyse a defect component
The process of Reverse Engineering
A 3D laser scan is initially used to 3D scan a physical component while an accurate measurement system is needed in order to minimise the deviation between the captured data. This data will be interpreted to a digital point cloud positioned accurately into the space (specific software used). The point cloud combines 3D scans of the physical object using the same 3D coordinates, resulting in a 3D point cloud.
The latter will be very soon converted to a very dense 3D mesh or even a full CAD model by specific software.
Starting from 3D scanning we can produce or reconstruct an object which is missing a digital 3D file. 3D laser scanning data is essential to reverse engineer an object. Most of the times, the 3D scan data need to be post-processed as the 3D scanner (using usually a DLSR camera) will not be able to capture deep apertures or the internal geometry of a part. As it is known, 3D scanners can only capture the outer surface of a component.
Post processing the 3D scan data might be a long process and depends on the size and complexity of the targeted geometry.