Reverse Engineering to A CAD Model

What is Reverse Modeling or Engineering?

Reverse modeling refers to the process of analyzing the construction of a product when there are no design documents available from its original production. Reverse modeling serves many purposes including:

  • developing a similar or improved product/design
  • creating adapters or enclosures to the original product
  • reproducing an existing part

The process involves taking measurements of the object with the use of a 3D scanner and then using the 3D data to create a 3D CAD (computer-aided drawing) model. A CAD model is the standard format for manufacturing.

Does 3D scanning an object produce a CAD Model?

A common misunderstanding of the 3D scanning process is that the direct output is a CAD model that can imported into any CAD system. Unfortunately, this is not the case. The direct output of all optical scanners is point cloud or polygon mesh data. A CAD modelling stage is needed if a geometric solid model is required.

If you have the right software and experience, point cloud data tells you everything you need to know in order to reconstruct a part in CAD. Unfortunately most mainstream CAD packages (example: AutoCAD, Rhino3D, Solidworks) are not particularly good at working with this type of data. 3D scan data processing software (example: Geomagic, Rapidform XOR and Polyworks) are great at converting point cloud data into CAD models.

Why use 3D scanning for this process?

It is difficult to take measurements of objects with organic or complex shapes. It is easy and fast to achieve this task using a 3D scanner since we can get measurements of an object from 3D scans rather quickly. A Coordinate Measuring Machine (CMM) only provides a discrete number of points, and although very accurate, it doesn’t compare to the information acquired by scanning, which shows how the surfaces flow.

What do you model?

When 3D scanningan object, all surface geometry is captured, including imperfections caused by the manufacturing process and any damage the part may have suffered. Typically the part will be remodelled to capture the design intent and to disregard imperfections. There are some good reasons for this. Firstly, modelling in every single defect could be time consuming and therefore expensive. Secondly, one of the main reasons for reverse engineering is to remake the part. Therefore the requirement is to create a ‘perfect’ part representing true design intent. This may require a detailed understanding of the function (depending on the part being modelled) because only then can the design intent be correctly interpreted.

Geomagic Design X makes 3D scan data more useful

All 3D scanners create point clouds or meshes, which aren’t that useful for most design needs. Geomagic Design X is purpose-built to create usable 3D models directly from scan data.

The fastest way to get from raw scans to real CAD models

Easy to learn and use because it works like your CAD software

If you can design in CAD, you can start

using Design X right away. It uses familiar tools for solid modeling, and skips the old reverse engineering workflows involving painstaking polygon editing and surface generation.

Powerful and flexible

The fastest way to get
from raw scans to real CAD models

There is simply no faster way to get from unprocessed 3D scans to complete, feature-based solid models. Design X’s redesign tools save hours or days of work compared to rebuilding in your CAD software.

Easy to learn and use because it works like your CAD software

Powerful and flexible

People are doing amazing things with Geomagic every day. Since Design X is built on a complete CAD kernel (Parasolid), it gives you the flexibility to make real CAD models the way you want. Everything you need is contained in one application, without the need to flip back and forth between apps. Additionally, its automated scan data processing tools make it easy to unlock the full potential of your 3D scanner.