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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.

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