Video: Reverse Engineering with Multifunction Metrology Arm

With a coordinate measuring arm laser scanner, you can go directly from physical part to CAD model.

James Anderton: In manufacturing, reverse engineering is a common procedure. But how do you reverse engineer? The traditional way, of course, you might use a CMM, you might even use a laser-based scanning system. But in most cases, you need a relatively simple, low-cost way of getting critical attributes out of a physical part, so you can turn that into a rendering. I’m with Luke Yoder, he’s the director of sales at FARO. Luke, I understand we’re looking at a solution here which frankly does not look like a huge, expensive, complex machine. But you can do reverse engineering with this?

Luke Yoder: That’s right! This is a very cost-effective solution. It gives two applications: one is the application for doing contact measurement, using the probe to probe features like planes and circles and different prismatic features. It also has the laser scanner on here for non-contact measurement, allowing you to capture the whole geometry on the part, and to be able to capture free-form surfaces which are very complex for the end use of reverse engineering that. Creating a whole model at the end and being able to 3D print that, take that to a CNC machine tool, or get that into manufacturing.

JA: There’s this common misconception that reverse engineering is basically stealing your competitor’s design. But most reverse engineering actually happens internally, within an organization. For example, you want to take a prototype and modify it, tweak it, and now we have a totally different part, and we have to render it. Does an arm like this have the potential to provide time savings and money savings?

LY: Well, the time-saving is tremendous. As opposed to a person using calipers and hand tool measurements, capturing all the geometry and writing on paper and giving it to a designer, here we can take the design scanner and simply scan and capture the part and get it into CAD right away.

JA: How much training does it take to learn how to use this?

LY: Somebody who is already using a 3D CAD package such as SolidWorks or Pro/E can jump onto this immediately.

JA: Can we try it?

LY: Absolutely.

To see the demonstration, watch the video above. 

If you liked this video, check out XL Laser Scanner for Qualifying Large Parts.

Written by

James Anderton

Jim Anderton is the Director of Content for Mr. Anderton was formerly editor of Canadian Metalworking Magazine and has contributed to a wide range of print and on-line publications, including Design Engineering, Canadian Plastics, Service Station and Garage Management, Autovision, and the National Post. He also brings prior industry experience in quality and part design for a Tier One automotive supplier.