Reverse engineering is simply the process of taking a completed object (could be physical or computerized) and see how it compares to a CAD model or lines of code on the computer. However, it’s more than just comparing. In this article we will go over what reverse engineering is, how to reverse engineer, and how it could help your project out.

What is reverse engineering?

Reverse engineering is to take an object that is already completed to reveal its designs, architecture, code or to extract details from the object. Reverse engineering was traditionally used for physical objects like parts, but now reverse engineering is also for code on applications.

An example of reverse engineering is an OEM part from a vehicle that is discontinued by the OEM. You as a third party might want to produce that part for the vehicle. Therefore, you as the third party will reverse engineer the OEM part that is discontinued to be able to effectively produce and manufacture the part. It’s almost like copying the part back into a CAD model.

However, reverse engineering can do so much more than just produce a CAD model.

Reverse engineering benefits

A list of benefits for reverse engineering could go on, but the key benefits for reverse engineering would be:

  • More in-depth understanding of a completed object
  • Find faults in the completed object
  • Run tolerance simulations of completed objects
  • Run analysis’ of the completed objects
  • Reproduce a discontinued object

Those are just a few benefits for reverse engineering. The best way to describe reverse engineering and what is possible from reverse engineering said object is basically being a detective on said object you are reverse engineering and copy every little detail.

Moreover, your project goals can dictate how much you get out of reverse engineering something.

How to reverse engineer

To reverse engineer a physical object it’s all about taking detailed measurements of an object and producing a CAD model. Measuring an object can be a complex job, but 3D scanning with CMM and CT scanners, especially with our T-Scan, can make the job easier, faster, and more accurate for the measurements using its resultant data. 3D laser scan data can quickly be turned into a parametric model representing its current, tangible as-built shape.

In a later article we will go over 3D scanning and the types of scanners.

After measurements are made, attributes of the object must be taken. No matter if it’s a small part or an aircraft, every feature, material, texture, etc. must be recorded for the CAD model to be successful.

Imagine the process of reverse engineering like copying the object and pasting it right onto the computer with all it’s features, attributes, currents, and dimensions. That is what we exactly want and will do.

Once all the measurements are made and attributes are recorded, we go ahead and create the CAD model. The CAD model again has to follow the object to the dot. So, typically multiple engineers has to check multiple times for bigger objects doing each part at a time to complete the bigger object, like an aircraft.

After the reverse engineered CAD model is finished, the engineer(s) can finally go ahead and perform multitude of tests, analisis’, redevelop, redesign, simulations, etc. The possibilities are almost endless once a CAD model is produced. As that CAD model can be manipulated to however you would want.

How reverse ENGINEERING can help you out

Using the 3D scanner and the resultant data, we can reverse engineer an object efficiently to generate a CAD model from a physical object that has any kind of complex or freeform shape.

Reverse engineering process outputs files in a modifiable structure, with each file then being tailored to meet the varying requirements of every client.

At ADAPT we can do reserve engineering services where it helps you with your goals:

  • Acquire CAD data that denotes an object’s original design intent
  • Design a new part to fit to a legacy part
  • Accurately model performance surfaces
  • Redesign a part free of future manufacturing defects
  • Revise CAD models of your tooling to match shop-floor changes
  • Modernize your manufacturing process
  • Re-qualify used objects

Some examples of reverse engineering projects ADAPT Technology has completed:

  • Japanese OEM Center Console, I/P components/modules (Full parametric models/assemblies – Full build Package delivered)
  • New Three Wheeler Vehicle (600+ Parts – Full parametric models/assemblies – Full build Packages delivered)
  • Automotive Accessories (Aftermarket Build Packages delivered)
  • Many consumer products (200+ different inventions / consumer products used for various benchmarking, redesign, breaking patents, etc.)
  • Passenger Bus Escape hatches, Door mechanisms, Stop signs, Crossing arms, etc (Used for breaking patents, redesigning completely, launching new improved products.)
  • Many Tier-1 Automotive Supplier projects (500+ various projects to design best in class improvements, match tooled parts to CAD master models, etc.)

In the end of the day though, going with reverse engineering services might seem like a simple task, but it’s actually a complex task to take what is already completed, study it, and then reproduce it on the computer. Yet, having a goal in place makes it simpler for engineers to help you with your project. So, knowing what you want to achieve from reverse engineering your object is key.

Final word

From the actual object you want to reverse engineer to the CAD model, knowing what you want to achieve will help lots with the process. Having the tools like 3D scanners available also help a ton with reverse engineering. In fact, most of the best reverse engineering projects we have done are with 3D scanners as it allows such details that a human eye might not be able to achieve.