SOLIDWORKS, 3D Scanning

Reverse Engineering and Legacy Data Recovery as a Service

By Chris Panosh on August 10, 2020

TriMech’s Project Engineering Group (PEG) provides different design services across various industries. One of the common requests we get from our clients is the creation of 2D or 3D files of existing products which can be accomplished through reversed engineering. Some of the reverse engineering services we have provided include drawings that are ready for mass production with appropriate GD&T applied or a fully featured CAD model to be utilized in the design process and more! In this article, we look at three ways in which PEG can support your projects using 3D scanning for reverse engineering.

What is Reverse Engineering?

Reverse engineering is the process of extracting information from pre-existing objects and reproducing them based on the information gathered. You can use reverse engineering to create a file from a legacy drawing or by 3D scanning an object and reconstructing its surface, and then either 3D print the object or detect features to do further surface modeling or feature-based modeling. 

Each process can bring with it certain complexities; sometimes, it’s as simple as making a 3D model of a part from 2D drawings or taking hand measurements off a physical part for recreation in SOLIDWORKS. Other times, it can be a more complex process – like importing and repairing error-riddled files or collecting 3D scan data for creating fully featured geometry in SOLIDWORKS.

Our team of engineering experts can help you determine which reverse engineering service will be the right one for your team. Here are three common ways in which our clients have used our reversed engineering services:

1. Using 2D Drawings to Create CAD Files

Many times, engineering projects use components or data that was developed years or even decades ago. This can create a challenge when trying to incorporate these legacy designs into the modern engineering and manufacturing process. For example, many machine shops now rely heavily on CAM software to produce the G-Code needed to run their automated machine centers. Without a modern CAD file, they will have to rely on their modeling skills or may even outright refuse the business if it doesn’t include a modern CAD file.

Using SOLIDWORKS, our team can recreate your components per your request and provide you with an array of file types to flow seamlessly into the next stage of your project. Whether it’s copies of hand drafted drawings or neutral 2D CAD formats, we have the experience and expertise to transform your old documents into a useful modern format.

2D_Drawing For CADAn example of an older hand drafted drawing that has lost legibility due to repeated photo copying

2. Using 3D CAD Data to Create SOLIDWORKS Files

Another common scenario is our clients have an existing CAD file, but may not be able to open or manipulate this file for their needs. Over the life of an engineering CAD file, it will often pass through several engineering teams, with different software, different project goals and even different languages. This introduces lots of potential for errors in the models. Just like making a photocopy, or saving an image file multiple times, data can become corrupted or lost during these transfers and duplications.

Depending on the file’s type, history and complexity, this process can be quick and painless or long and difficult. Our engineers have extensive experience converting, repairing and recreating models based off a wide variety of CAD file formats.

Imported drawing error in SOLIDWORKS

An example of errors popping up in an imported body

3. Creating SOLIDWORKS Files from a Physical Product

Sometimes clients won’t have any 2D or 3D data for us to work with, but they can provide a physical product for us to reverse engineer. Depending on the complexity and the nature of the geometry involved, PEG will work with you to create 3D CAD files of your component.

Most times, the tried and true methods of taking hand measurements is all that is needed to gather the required data to model a component in SOLIDWORKS. When the geometry involved is too complex for just hand measurements, PEG can combine its expertise in 3D scanning, using Artec scanners, to produce 3D representations of your component to create featured CAD models.

Artec Studio 15 Model to Model Texture Transfer

While there isn’t a magic button to automatically convert your files and information into modern CAD formats, you can rely on PEG’s experience and expertise to help you quickly and efficiently generate the appropriate files you need to keep your project moving forward. Contact PEG today to find out how we can help.

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