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Reverse Engineering Method Using Advanced 3D Laser Scanner

Date: 05/05/2008, 09:35:31

Engineers Edge - For most applications, engineering and design is executed out conceptually, the concepts are flow charted, sketched and then created or modeled within a 3D CAD (computer aided model) model virtually. Ultimately, parts, components or assemblies are fabricated and assembled for testing and delivery. In the case of reverse engineering, however, the path that is followed is exactly the reverse: the part or assembly that physically exists is transformed into a 3D CAD virtual model. This is exactly what they do in the Product Design Laboratory at the Higher School of Engineering in Bilbao.

Often, reverse engineering is viewed as merely copying another design, however modern reverse engineering is typically used as a cost effective means to document existing designs. Often with legacy designs and parts there are no digital models or accurate engineering drawings specifying geometry requirements. These legacy parts may require modifications or other enhancements. For undocumented part geometries requiring a 3D model is where modern 3D laser scanning reverse engineering is utilized. Other applications 3D laser scanning is applied is in the preservation for works of art or to digitally capture custom and complex tooling geometry.

State-of-the-art 3D laser scanner equipment:

Mobile 3D scanners are able to scan any type of part from any angle, given that the scanner and part can be positioned within the laser scanner field of view. There are limited size restrictions of the objects to be scanned, however larger items can be scanned in sections and then combined virtually within a CAD system. 3D laser scanners are limited in that they can only scan the external features or line-of site features of the part... During the scanning process, the laser beam transverses over the surface of the part object, the scanner collects and interprets the co-ordinates of the scanned points on the part surface. Laser scanners are capable of reading 18,000 points per second or more. Within a very short period of time (seconds), the entire lime-of-site surface can be scanned. These scanned areas are then translated into a CAD file format and made available for viewing on a computer screen.

3D laser scanners utilize software to processing the points gathered. Typical scanner software can allow manipulation or massaging of the sets of points and allow modification such as smoothing selected areas and other characteristics. Additionally, distortions or unnecessary data points from the overall set of original points might have can be eliminated.

Once the part model is completed it can be exported into an industry standard CAD file format for manufacturing, rapid prototyping, detailing or analysis.

This process can be employed to reverse engineer wide range of products and geometries in many different fields:

Image: With reverse engineering the object or the part that physically exists ends up transformed into something virtual, on the computer screen. (Credit: UPV/EHU)

3d-scanning.jpg (33.2 KB)  

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