What is Reverse Engineering? Examples and Working

Reverse engineering is a process of restoring a product by evaluating its functions or structure. While designing a product, an engineer generally draws up a design and creates drawings, and then the final product is constructed. However, in reverse engineering, the engineer starts with the final product and works on the design process and product design specifications. This is done to obtain all the vital information about the product’s design and different manufacturing methods.

But what is reverse engineering used for? What are the top examples of reverse engineering? Here, we’ll put light on everything you need to know about this form of engineering.

What is Reverse Engineering?

As already discussed, reverse engineering is a process in which products or objects are deconstructed or dismantled to get crucial design information. These products could be architectural structures, software, machines, aircraft, and any other thing. Also known as back engineering, reverse engineering lets engineers know how a part was designed so that they know how to recreate it.

What Is Reverse Engineering Used For?

Reverse engineering allows you to gather information about a product’s design, its dimensions, properties of the materials, etc. In simple words, it provides you with a blueprint of what went into a product’s original design. But why would anyone disassemble an already existing product in the first place?

Well, reverse engineering is a way to recreate designs of products or components that are no longer being produced. There could be items whose original blueprints have been destroyed or lost. In that case, reverse engineering helps you trace the design steps and use this information to repair, recreate, or improve the new product. This process is used ethically to improve the product, efficiency of production work, or increase cost-effectiveness.

Areas where reverse engineering is used

Below are some of the areas where reverse engineering is used:

Reproduce Ancient Bespoke Objects

The most reliable way to create an object you don’t have any information about except the object itself is reverse engineering. For example, suppose a product is in an organic shape. When it comes to CAD designing, it is challenging to ensure that the CAD model of the product will look similar to the sculpted one. However, reverse engineering makes it hassle-free to recreate the product, as the physical model will be your source of information for the CAD model.

Improvement Of Parts

A product or component might need an upgrade. If you can’t find any alternative part on the market, you can create a copy of the original design with reverse engineering. Not only can you examine the parts for failure analysis, but you can also redesign these parts for increased thickness or stronger materials.

Creation Of Reliable CAD Models

Reverse engineering involves the use of CAD files that can be studied for future references. A CAD file is used to examine the production process and find ways to enhance productivity. It helps engineers capture accurate data and save a lot of time.

Identification Of Product Vulnerabilities

Reverse engineering also helps you discover faults or defects in products. Examining an existing product with reverse engineering helps you identify faulty parts, ensuring the safety and well-being of the users. Looking at the digital files created via reverse engineering displays flaws clearly so that you can plan a repair or replacement.

How Does The Reverse Engineering Process Work?

Reverse engineering is used to duplicate the existing products or components even when you don’t have any documents, models, or drawings. Be it manufacturing, automotive, aerospace, or nuclear, almost every industry can capture data and leverage this process.

First and foremost, you need to decide if reverse engineering is fit for your project. After that, you can follow the following steps to reverse engineer a component or product-

  • Find out which equipment will work best to capture the data.
  • Once you have decided on the right equipment, the next step is to scan the geometries.
  • You will receive a file as a mesh or model. It provides you with data that can be refined with automated technology or other manipulations.
  • Now that the CAD model is complete, you can start 3D printing or manufacturing.

The process can be summarized as –

  • The product or object being reverse engineered is studied, and information is extracted.
  • This information is converted into a model. Each step of the model explains its function.
  • Finally, the model is reviewed, and testing is done. Then, the model is implemented to re-engineer the product.

What Will Be The Turnaround Time?

No doubt, technology has evolved a lot. You scan a variety of parts and get accurate final files. However, it will take some time. First, the complexity of the product, part, or component will impact the scan time. If you need to disassemble the parts and scan each part separately, it will take even longer. Second, the size and complexity of a part will also impact the time it would take to refine the CAD model. Thus, depending on the key details needed, it might take a couple of days.

What Are The Examples Of Reverse Engineering?

Some of the examples of reverse engineering are-

Software

One common example of reverse engineering in software is to adopt a program’s machine code that is sent to a logic processor. Then, program language statements turn the codes into the original source code. Other examples are fixing bugs, correcting errors when you don’t have the source code, reconstructing the lost code, etc.

Construction

In reverse engineering, large scanners are used for measuring the 3D shape of buildings or process plants. This information is presented as a BIM (building information model). Architects or engineers can study this model to address specific challenges and find ways to fix them.

Computer Parts

Reverse engineering is often ethical to create replacement parts when the existing parts are no longer available. For example, Google’s Project Zero used reverse engineering to identify microprocessor vulnerabilities.

Final Words

Reverse Engineering has several legitimate uses in industries. It is ethically and legally used to address compatibility issues, conduct security assessments, recreate legacy parts, streamline the production process, and improve the existing product in a cost-effective way. Based on what is being reverse-engineered, the steps involved may vary. If you are still trying to find out if reverse engineering will work for you, you can talk to professionals.

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