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Outsourcing Reverse Engineering? Answer These 7 Questions

Posted by Mike Knicker on Jul 19, 2013 5:59:00 AM

reverse engineering 3D fan

If you have decided that outsourcing reverse engineering services makes the most sense for your project or business, you still have some decisions to make. Not all reverse engineering applications are the same. You must decide what type of equipment to use and what kind of output you need, as well as consider a range of other factors.

This checklist is designed to help you get started.

7 Questions to Ask When Outsourcing Reverse Engineering

  1. What is the objective of reverse engineering? Your provider will need to know your end goals in order to help you make the most cost-effective decisions.

  2. What type of reverse engineering makes the most sense for your application? You can decide between design intent, verbatim (as-built), or a hybrid of the two. When reverse engineering for design intent, the measurements of the original object may be adjusted to correct for imperfections so that the final product will function in the desired way. The verbatim approach aims to create an exact replica of the original object, including imperfections, and the hybrid approach can be used in cases when the original object features multiple types of surfaces.

  3. How should you process measurement data? When gathering measurements to reverse engineer an object, you can use a dimension-driven approach, shrink-wrap surfaces, or a combination of the two.

  4. How accurate do you need to be? Depending on your objectives and the reasons for reverse engineering, your application might need a certain degree of measurement accuracy. For example, in the case of an object that must meet regulatory specifications, accuracy is extremely important. However, if you are replicating a statue for sale in a gift shop, some minor differences are acceptable. 

  5. Does the original object need to remain intact? In some cases, in order to get the most accurate measurements, the original object will need to be disassembled or even destroyed. If this is not an option for your application, your provider must know that at the beginning of the process.

  6. What type of equipment should you use? Many different types of measurement equipment can be used for reverse engineering. Your provider will consider the level of accuracy required, surface characteristics of the original object, and many other factors when deciding how best to take measurements.

  7. Do you need to measure the object in a constrained state? For some applications, measuring the object while in a state that simulates how it's shape will conform in assembly makes more sense. You might also need to measure other objects or parts if you are reverse engineering an item that is part of an assembly.

Your provider can (and should) help you answer many of these questions, so don't be afraid to ask.

One of the greatest advantages of outsourcing reverse engineering services to providers such as Q-PLUS Labs is that we operate across multiple industries. This means that we offer a broad range of equipment types and the expertise to handle almost any reverse engineering application. Contact us today to learn more or to get started on your next reverse engineering project.

 

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Topics: dimensional inspection, measurements, dimensional measurement, criteria, reverse engineering, 3D Scanning, 3D scanners, metrology, outsourcing

11 Dimensional Inspection Equipment Factors to Consider Before Purchasing

Posted by Mike Knicker on May 7, 2013 2:30:00 PM

11 dimensional inspection factorsPurchasing dimensional inspection equipment requires making a big decision, and in most cases a significant financial investment. It is important to be certain that the equipment you buy will serve its intended purpose and provide the results you need.

Because there are so many different types of equipment that can be used for a broad range of purposes, it helps to know what questions to ask before you buy.

11 Dimensional Inspection Equipment Questions You Need to Ask

  1. What sensor type do you need?

    Depending on the surface characteristics of the objects you intend to measure, you may need either a contact sensor or a non-contact sensor. Within each of these two categories are several other options and different sensor types. The more you know about the objects you will be measuring, the better able you will be to select the right types of dimensional inspection equipment.

  2. What tolerance levels are required for your application?

    There is a big difference between replicating an antique to sell in a gift shop and mass producing components that will be used in a medical device. In the former case, a certain amount of inaccuracy is tolerable, while in the latter case the requirements are more stringent. Make sure you know how precise you need to be, especially if you have to maintain regulatory compliance.

  3. Does your equipment need to be portable?

    Do you need a machine that will always sit at the end of a production line, or do you need a more portable unit that can take measurements in the field?

  4. What size(s) are the objects you need to measure?

    Some objects are small enough to be put into a machine, while others are simply too large or heavy. On the other hand, objects that are on the nano scale will require specialized equipment.

  5. What shape(s) are the objects you need to measure?

    Does your object have internal geometry that you need to measure? Bore holes, threads, and other complex geometry cannot always be measured by certain types of dimensional inspection equipment or without certain accessories.

  6. How fast do you need results?

    Measuring the occasional prototype is a different scenario than inspecting every component that comes off a production line. It is important to know how quickly you will need results so you can purchase a machine that is capable of meeting your needs.

  7. Does your equipment need to be automated?

    Some dimensional inspection equipment can be automated, but not all of it can be. If this is an important factor for your application, make sure it is a high priority in your purchasing decision.

  8. Who will be using the equipment?

    Ease of use should be considered if you are weighing multiple options. Will you need to hire new staff or train employees to use this new equipment? Does your budget support that?

  9. What is required to maintain the equipment?

    High-precision measurement equipment needs to be properly set up, regularly maintained, and periodically calibrated. Does your staff have the skills to do this, or can you outsource it?

  10. How durable and reliable is the equipment?

    Dimensional inspection equipment is an investment. It is important to compare multiple manufacturers and work with an expert who has experience will all of them.

  11. What is your budget?

    Perhaps one of the most important factors is your budget, however, be sure to weigh all of the above before you make a decision.

If you would like to learn more about selecting the right dimensional inspection equipment for your application, download our free guide. You can also schedule a consultation with one of our dimensional inspection experts who can walk you through the entire process. Contact us today to schedule an assessment.

What type of dimensional inspection equipment are you looking for?

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Topics: dimensional inspection, manufacturing, measurements, dimensional measurement, equipment, criteria, dimensional inspection equipment, metrology, budgeting, project planning

4 Things to Ask When Getting Reverse Engineering Services

Posted by Mike Knicker on Nov 27, 2012 8:32:00 AM


reverse engineering design consultingReverse engineering allows you to obtain the exact dimensions of an object so you can replicate it. Specialized laboratories have various types of equipment to measure almost any type of object, no matter how large or small, or detailed or precise. The measurements are then delivered in a format that will allow you to produce a copy. You might need to reverse engineer a custom part, an object that does not have original design plans, or a unique antique.  

Reverse engineering services can be extremely specialized, and not every provider can meet every need for every customer. Ask your lab the following four questions to ensure that you will receive the quality results you require:

1. Do you understand the application?

Reverse engineering a tennis racquet frame for a 3D digital marketing video requires relatively little precision. However, if the reason for reverse engineering is to produce an exact replica of an engineered airplane part, an entirely different (and possibly more expensive) measurement process will be required. Make sure your provider understands your reasons for reverse engineering so they can select the best measurement method for the application and your budget.

In addition to accuracy, it’s very important to specify between design intent or as built reverse engineering.  Design intent reverse engineering corrects for errors in the object’s original manufacturing.  As built reverse engineering closely matches the original design including its imperfections.  For example, a statue is a good example of something that would use the as built method whereas a damaged piston will certainly require the design intent approach. Both have their place and the choice will be determined  by the given project.

2. Do you have the right equipment for my needs?

If you do need a high level of precision, make sure the reverse engineering lab has equipment that meets the required specifications. In the case of a threaded nut, the equipment will need to measure both interior and exterior surface dimensions; not all measuring devices can do this as accurately as others. The type of material also matters when selecting equipment. If the surface of your object is reflective or elastic, different types of sensors are required. Talk to your provider about the equipment they intend to use and their reasons for selecting it.

3. Can you produce a deliverable format that meets my needs?

Reverse engineering results can be delivered in a format as simple as a PDF (such as an engineering drawing), as detailed as a parametric 3D CAD model, or somewhere in between. Make sure your provider delivers a file that includes enough detail for your application and is compatible with the software you intend to use during the replication process.

4. Can you produce timely results?

Your deadlines might impact the choice of equipment and measurement methods. In general, higher precision measurements take more time. Make sure your provider understands all of your priorities, including the amount of time it takes to produce results.

Q-PLUS Labs provides reverse engineering services for a broad range of industries and applications. Our wide array of dimensional measurement and 3D scanning equipment allows us to tailor measurement processes to your needs, so you can get the type of results you need, when you need them. Contact us today to learn more.

How has reverse engineering helped you grow your business?

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Topics: measurements, criteria, reverse engineering, engineering

What Are The Types of Reverse Engineering and Why Does it Matter?

Posted by Mike Knicker on Nov 8, 2012 2:58:00 PM

reverse engineering typesReverse engineering can be used for a broad range of applications, from precisely duplicating an airplane part that is no longer manufactured to making a mold to replicate an antique statuette. The type of reverse engineering required will depend on the specific application and the necessary degree of precision. Knowing these factors in advance can help you determine the type of reverse engineering that makes the most sense so you can get useful results and make the appropriate budget decisions.

Exploring two extreme ends of the spectrum illustrates the difference between reverse engineering types and why it is important to understand them.

Case 1: Precision is important

Various factors are considered when determining the best method for reverse engineering. Take the example of an aircraft part or biomedical device. You have the original part, but no design specifications. In this case, the following factors are considered:
  1. Original object - Because having a high degree of precision is important, several original parts are required to generate the most accurate duplicate part. These several parts will be measured and compared; the average measurements are typically used to replicate the part.
  2. Tolerance - This represents the range of measurements that are acceptable. When working with a regulatory body such as the FAA or FDA, you generally must stay within a certain allowable deviation.
  3. Accuracy - A high degree of accuracy is required to meet the desired function of the part.
  4. Measurement approach - Many types of measurements using various contact and non-contact sensors will be taken with either a low-density ordered data or high-density data approach, possibly with millions of points to get the most accurate and detailed information possible.
  5. Purpose - You may want to create new tooling or parts for a high-precision application, or duplicate a part for which you do not have existing specifications. The result might be parametric CAD models, 3D mesh files, or engineering drawings that can be used for manufacturing.
Case 2: Precision is less important

When replicating an object that is not subject to regulatory scrutiny, a less strict approach can be taken. The same factors apply, but they are handled differently:
  1. Original object - Generally only a single original object is required.
  2. Tolerance - The tolerance levels may not be important at all, making the measurement requirements significantly less onerous.
  3. Accuracy - The original object may have a more free-form geometry that does not require the same degree of accuracy.
  4. Measurement approach - Only 3D scanner measurement data may be required to generate a suitable duplicate and engineering drawings are generally not required.
  5. Purpose - You may want to get a digital representation of a product for a marketing video or reproduce products for manufacturing. The result might be a 3D mesh or non-parametric CAD model that can be sent to a rapid prototyping machine and also allows you to compare reproductions to the original.

Of course, there are a broad range of examples that fall between these two ends of the spectrum. A good reverse engineering lab can help you determine which reverse engineering approach is right for your project.

If you need reverse engineering services, contact the experts at Q-PLUS Labs. We provide 3D scanning & digitizing, precision CMM measurement, 3D CAD modeling, and engineering drawing services to help you reverse engineer any type of part. Contact us today to learn more about our services.

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Topics: dimensional inspection, manufacturing, measurements, quality, reverse engineering, engineering

Four Reasons to Include Dimensional Inspection in Your Manufacturing

Posted by Mike Knicker on Oct 3, 2012 2:35:00 PM


Direct Computer Control Coordinate Measuring MachineA recent 
Frost & Sullivan report has indicated that more and more industries are cutting back on their internal dimensional inspection resources because of limited funds and a lack of skilled technicians.  The most viable solutions for many companies it to outsource this valuable service to third-party providers like Q-Plus Labs.

When it comes to dimensional inspection, the more accuracy you have, the better the outcome will be. In many cases, this means applying different measurement techniques for different applications. The same equipment and technology will not be used to measure both automobile parts, medical devices, and the sharpness of an instrument. By the same token, a diverse staff of trained professionals is required to provide dimensional inspection services across multiple categories.

Reasons to Include Dimensional Inspection in Manufacturing
Regardless of the industry or the type of dimensional inspection required, there are some universal reasons to include this valuable step in your manufacturing:
  1. Risk management - Testing products or components before they enter the manufacturing process helps you reduce overall risk and liability. You can identify and solve problems before they become costly, or even worse, disastrous. Whether you are testing the roundness of a precision bearing or the curvature of the interior thread root of a bolt, accurate measurements can mean the difference between failure and success.
     
  2. More effective decision making - Sometimes a process or product that looks good on paper does not seem like such a good idea when it becomes a reality. Advance measurements can help you make key decisions during the development process, before it's too late to make changes.
     
  3. Ability to determine process capability - If the end product requires high levels of pressure, force, shear, or any other extreme environment, validating a process or equipment with a capability study before it is subjected to these conditions can save your business a lot of time and money. In fact, any products that will be going into high-volume production should have a capability study as part of process control.
     
  4. Regulatory compliance - Depending on your industry, you may need to meet certain regulatory requirements. Validating these requirements before submitting to an audit is the best way to ensure that you are compliant.
     
Applications for Dimensional Inspection
The applications that can benefit from this type of measurement and testing are countless; these are just a few examples:
  • Wall thickness of bottles, pipes, castings, and formed sheet metal
  • Settling disputes between manufacturers and subcontractors
  • Video, laser, and light scanning for objects that are too small or soft for contact measurements
  • Nano measurements for surface finishes, extremely small parts, and high-precision instruments
  • Fully-automated CMM inspection to test manufactured parts for conformance to engineering drawing requirements

Q-Plus Labs has the equipment, technology, and knowledge to provide the dimensional inspection services you need for your products. Whether you need to analyze large contours, measure dimensions at the nano level, or perform a specialized non-contact inspection, we have the necessary resources to provide accurate, unbiased results in whatever format you require. 

Contact us or download one of our many product and services brochures to learn more about dimensional inspection and the many other services Q-Plus Labs offers.

How has dimensional inspection benefited your business in the past? 

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Topics: dimensional inspection, manufacturing, measurements, regulatory compliance, risk management