Reverse Engineering: a case study

 In Case Studies

What is Reverse Engineering?



Engineering is the practice of incorporating scientific principles in the design and production of machines, structures, and various systems.

Reverse Engineering

Reverse engineering is the process of using an end product and working backwards to solve existing problems.

Equipment used for this project

Faro Arm Quantum S 11.5m – for data acquisition

PolyWorks Metrology Suite – for alignments, data modification, and analyzing reverse engineered model

Geomagic Design X – for reverse engineering the CAD model from scanned file

Reverse Engineering is a cornerstone service at Haven Metrology. With our state of the art scanning systems and high accuracy CMMs and vision system we can measure and reproduce models with incredible accuracy. And with powerful softwares like PolyWorks Metrology Suite and Geomagic Design X gone are the days of guessing the geometry of freeform objects. We can guarantee perfect patterns, symmetry, and assemblage.

What are some purposes of Reverse Engineering?

1. The product is no longer manufactured, or a manufacturer cannot be located

2. The original design documentation no longer exists or is inadequate

3. Incorporation

  • New design intent
  • Additional features
  • Redesigns for wear or modifications
  • Updates to obsolete features

4. To save research and development costs

5. To better understand competitor products

A Well Used Machine

This machine has been in use for more than ten years. Repairs are visible throughout in order to maintain its functionality and prevent shutting down production.

However, the scenario that brought about reverse engineering this machine is that the keyway that controls the jaws sheered the keys off of the jaws. The keys are all locked in position, the keyway cannot be extracted, and the system is rapidly failing.

Further, the teeth are worn, and due to the size of the machine the system has been collapsing on itself. Workarounds like welding the jaws together were temporary fixes.

Key Objectives of the Project

Objective 1: Acquire as much data as possible to maintain original design intent

Five set ups were required at different locations around the machine, each with the machine in different operating stages in order to collect as much data as possible. Data was collected above, below, and inside of the machine. Data sets were then modified, aligned, and merged together to produce one scan file that was as complete as necessary.

Objective 2: Incorporate and harmonize internal keyway data from a similar machine

Because the keyway had shorn the keys off of the jaws it had bound up and was impossible to extract from the machine. A similar keyway was extracted from another machine in order to replicate its geometry. Because we are reverse engineering this machine we were able to modify the new jaw geometry to work in conjunction with this keyway.

Objective 3: Incorporate features inspired by other systems

Over the lifetime of the machine it began to compress on itself. The jaws would bind up and not return to their home positions as easily. Inspiration came from another machine at the facility to incorporate spring loaded mechanisms to assist. Each jaw was given notches with pressed pins, and the larger frame a common pin for the springs to attach to. Because enough data was collected we were able to ensure the new features would not become an interference.

The Modelling Process

Below are demonstrations of the workflow creating the model and before and after views of the project.

If you have a similar project, large and complex or small and simple, please reach out to us here. We would be happy to offer some direction and provide a quote for you to keep in your back pocket.

Serving Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, and beyond, Haven Metrology is an ISO/IEC 17025:2005 accredited facility specializing in contract measurement services using CMM’s with PC-DMIS, 3D Scanning with PolyWorks, Industrial CT & Radiography with Volume Graphics, Reverse Engineering with Geomagic Design X, High Accuracy Vision services, and a wide variety of hand measurement tools.