reverse engineering

File Types That Can Be Generated with Reverse Engineering

Reverse engineering is a process that helps you take existing models, parts, and assemblies and generate 3D data that can be manipulated and reproduced. Using the right technology can be a huge timesaver when you need to reproduce a part or capture real-time data on site at your plant.

Using calipers and measuring tapes to capture accurate data is time-consuming and prone to errors — especially as the part to be captured gets larger. Reverse engineering drastically reduces man hours while improving the accuracy of the information.

Let me walk you through the process of reverse engineering a part, and then I’ll explain the types of files that can be created as well as how they are commonly used.

Reverse Engineering: Process, File Types, and Use Cases

The Reverse Engineering Process

The process of reverse engineering a part is complex. It requires the right equipment and technicians to run it. However, once you have that, you can save a lot of time and avoid potential problems.

The process:

  • You start by selecting the right equipment for your project’s needs.

  • Then you scan the part or assembly and capture a point cloud of data.

  • The software takes that point cloud and connects the points with triangles to form a mesh that can be used in a variety of ways.

Your next steps vary depending on your use case, so let's look at that now.

File Types and Uses

1. Exporting the Point Clouds to Create Parametric Models

The scan data can be converted into full native models that are ready for SolidWorks, Pro Engineer, Inventor, and Siemens. Non-proprietary file types like IGES, STP, X_T, DXF, DWG, and others can also be created if your team is not using software that works natively with the resulting point clouds.

faro arm scan
reverse engineered scan

The final point clouds can be used as a base to further develop into complete parts or surface models.

They can also be used to create geometries that enable you to be able to design around existing piping and equipment. This allows you to not have interferences and drastically cuts down on the number of changes that have to be made on-the-fly when installing a new part or assembly.

You can use the point mesh scan data to:

  • Develop aftermarket add-ons to existing equipment. For example, you could scan the connection points on an OEM bulldozer to create a part that replaces existing parts and fits perfectly.

  • Scan hand-built, custom, one-of-a-kind parts with precise measurements. For example, you could scan a hand-crafted wax mold and create a production-ready mold that is an exact duplicate of the original.

  • Capture the exterior shape of a part or model that is used to design a part that mates seamlessly with the original. For example, you could scan the switch box of a glove box and use that data to design a new switch that would fit into the space allocated for the original switch.

  • Scan legacy parts that no longer have original drawings, or that were completely handmade in the past. You can use this data to reproduce fully mechanical CAD files while still preserving the original handcrafted details. These details can be reproduced in modern casting patterns.

2. Create a Watertight Mesh

Another option is to use the point cloud data to create an accurate watertight mesh. The resulting mesh can be used in a 3D printer to create accurate prototypes quickly and effectively.

Save Time & Cost With Professionals

While the process or reverse engineering a part or taking an accurate 3D scan of a facility may seem as easy as waving a wand and having a clean file — it’s not. The machinery and team to run it can be a costly investment.

In most cases, it’s a good decision to outsource reverse engineering work to professionals that already have the equipment, training, and experience to use it correctly.

If you think you have a need for reverse engineering, but you don’t have the tools, contact our team today and let us take care of it for you.