When is required
Reverse engineering is an industrial process where an existing product, whatsoever its nature, is analysed and recreated in order to obtain a 3D CAD model.
Reverse engineering may be required when the component is failing or not functioning properly. Reverse engineering may also be required when original product design no longer is available in 3D CAD, or never even existed.
The purpose in such cases is to generate the necessary technical information and documentation of the component’s physical dimensions.
By using reverse engineering a three dimensional object can be captured first in a form of cloud point and then exported for rapid prototyping by using it in 3D CAD software.
Contact and contactless technology
Reverse engineering can be achieved by using different technologies, typically divided into "contact" or "contactless" projection. In the first case, a mechanical arm moves on the piece and generates a point each time it touches it.
In contactless technologies, a laser is projected onto the piece to generate the same points using reflection recognition techniques.
Convert points into 3D file
The scanning result is always a cloud of data points, a set of X, Y, Z coordinates, and that defines the external surface of the piece. Next these coordinates can be developed in different ways to retrieve three-dimensional mathematics.
The simplest and most immediate processing is to convert points into a STL file instantly available in rapid prototyping. More innovative processing allows reconstructing the point cloud into a continuous three-dimensional file (i.e. ISG or STP file).