3D Scanning for Reverse Engineering

Over the last century, engineers and manufacturers have developed thousands of machine products. Due to continuous technological advancements, few of these products have stayed relevant for more than a few years. This means that while the machine’s purpose may not be obsolete, replacement parts may no longer be available on the market.

When a machine fails, you change the component rather than the entire machine. Often, to get this replacement, the component must be reverse engineered using 3D scanners.

In this article, we’ll discuss the rise of Reverse Engineering and how 3D scanning is streamlining the process.

What is Reverse Engineering?

Reverse engineering is a process used to figure out how a product was initially built so it can be reproduced. It is the practice of dismantling machine parts, software, equipment, and other products in order to obtain design knowledge, with the purpose of reconstruction. It could also entail dismantling individual components of larger hardware products.

Reverse engineering is a powerful technique to develop computer-aided design from physical components using 3D scanning and 3D printing. 3D scanners can quickly survey complex products into 3D CAD models and can greatly ramp up product development workflows. This makes it possible to build 3D printed parts that exactly match existing products of all kinds.

How to use 3D Scanning for Reverse Engineering?

3D scanners examine a physical product or real-world environment in order to obtain all necessary data on its shape. Data collected can subsequently be used to create 3D CAD models. A digital model of the product is then available to reconstruct, analyze, or simulate engineering ideas.

Reverse engineering is one of the most common applications of 3D scanning. Component parts are reconstructed using data collected by 3D scanners. While other techniques and equipment can be used to obtain data from components, 3D scanning with non-contact scanners has proven to be the best and most effective way for geometrical surveys of component parts.

The following steps apply to using 3D scanners for Reverse Engineering.

1). Make the object ready for scanning by using markers if necessary and also spraying a temporary matte polish on the object to increase scanning accuracy. Reflective surfaces obstruct 3D scanners and it’s practically impossible to scan without a matte finish.

2). Scan the part with a 3D scanner to capture essential areas. If the part has holes or deep grooves, you may need to reorient and rescan it numerous times.

3). Fine-tune and optimize the polygonal mesh that results. Remove any artifacts and examine the surface stitching. Also, use the tools in CAD software to import the mesh.

4). Make solids out of polygons by un-meshing the geometry. If necessary, you can add new objects to the 3D model or remove those that are no longer needed.

5). Lastly, create a new part using 3D printers or CNC machines based on the model you made.

Top software applications for 3D scanning

In addition to creating 3D models from real-world objects, laser and structured light projections can be used to create a model. This form of 3D modeling software frequently comes with 3D scanning equipment, such as a 3D laser scanner.

  • Polyworks: developed by Innovmetric and used by ShapeGrabber 3D Scanning tools. Used by professionals in the automotive, aerospace and other industries. It can evaluate 3D models for quality and accuracy and can also make it possible to verify the model built by processing the point cloud.
  • Artec Studio: undoubtedly one of the industry’s leaders in 3D scanning software. Comes with a professional toolkit and cutting-edge algorithms for calculating 3D data and delivering accurate results.
  • MeshLab: an open-source framework for generating and editing 3D triangular meshes. Helps in editing, cleaning, analysing, rendering, and transforming meshes into a complete 3D model.
  • And many others, such as Volume Graphics, Micmac, Meshroom, and so on.

3D scanning mobile apps

3D scanning technology has advanced to the point that everyone can now use their phone to turn a real-world object into a 3D model. Nowadays, specialized applications have been dedicated to turning a physical object into a 3D model in a matter of seconds. Here are a few of those apps.

  • Heges: a 3D scanning iOS application for professionals using iPhones. Provides a lot of cool capabilities, such as Infinity scanning for big areas, ability to scan in dark spaces with 360° rotation.
  • Qclone: a mobile 3D scanning app specifically for smartphones. 3D scan an object and quickly create a 3D model that can be exported into a variety of formats and delivered for 3D printing.
  • And many others, such as Trnio, Scann3D, Sony3Dcreator, and so on.

Final Words

3D scanning is a cutting-edge technology that is revolutionizing manufacturing and engineering operations around the world. This technology has enabled engineers to reverse engineer replacement parts and components, keeping machines running that would otherwise be rendered obsolete.

3D Scanners used with appropriate software enable reverse engineers to reconstruct faulty hardware components. This scanning technique provides engineers with reliable, high-resolution 3D data to develop replacements for old components. The data creates accurate 3D designs that can be used for prototyping.

According to a survey recently carried out by MarketsandMarkets, the market for 3D scanning is expected to reach $1324 million by 2026. Given this figure, it’s clear that utilizing 3D scanning technology in engineering processes will help engineers develop and maintain a competitive edge.

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