3D Scanning & reverse engineering are processes that essentially go hand in hand. 3D Scanning technology is used to quickly measure intricate objects, producing a digital scan of the object. This is essentially done by reflecting a light or laser onto the surface of the object, where the pattern and surface of the object cause an interference. The camera’s installed in the device capture the changes in data, compiling it to produce a digital 3D copy of the object.
Reverse engineering is made possible due to 3D Scanning, as the digital copy retrieved is then used to re-manufacture the object without the need for the original physical drawings or plans. The combination of these technologies aids several industries in their design process, producing faster results and reducing costs.
The automobile sector benefits greatly from this technology. Old/antique cars often stop running on the road as they have parts that don’t work anymore. It is often challenging to find a replacement for their parts, as manufacturing for them has been stopped for a long time. Furthermore, there are often no prints or designs available, making it much more difficult to remake the part. With the help of 3D scanning, the process to redesign the non-working part becomes very easy and can be reversed engineered.
In recent years, customized Formula 1 car manufacturers have used this technology, as manufacturers are often unwilling to reveal their engine design. Therefore, to understand the dimensions and exterior of the vehicle, and engine better, race car manufacturers utilize 3D scanning & reverse engineering to design their customized cars more efficiently.
This technology is gaining rapid popularity in the health industry as well. Doctors are able to reduce surgery times by utilizing this technology, as they are able to reverse engineer customized bones of individuals at a faster speed along with 3D Printing. Museums are also using this technology to their advantage by making copies of fragile artifacts and using these copies to be displayed. Their replica designs are more accurate representations of the actual artifact when made through using 3D Scanning, Reverse Engineering, and 3D Printing than they would be through any other method.
In the past few years, the development in this area of technology has allowed the prices of 3D scanning equipment to go down by several folds. This drop in prices enables individual designers and engineers, as well as smaller firms to employ this technology and allows creativity and efficiency to rise. This process has also reduced the product design cycle, making the designing process much smaller and speedier, saving time and money.
However, copyright challenges still haunt original designers of products, as with the wide availability of this 3D Scanning technology the chances of their product idea being stolen will increase. Institutes need to update their outdated copyright laws to keep up with the technology, in order to safeguard the interests of designers.
The introduction of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to make it easier for public use and making a smaller device that could be carried around everywhere are definitely going to be beneficial in the long run.
To increase the usability of certain products, improvement in previously designed products is required. Some products in current use were designed with no design data stored such as their physical or digital drawings to refer to make advancements in current products in use. Some products with small and complex features and internal designs are difficult to observe or measure with no digital data on design becomes difficult for design up-gradation. In such cases, 3D scanning and reverse engineering have a crucial benefit for product design improvement or new product development. 3D scanning and reverse engineering is an impressive processes for improvement in product design or product development and play a vital role.
3D scanning is a process of analyzing a real-world object or an environment to collect data on its shape, color, and possibly its appearance. The collected data can then be used to construct digital 3D models.
The data obtained as the output is point cloud data which is worked upon on various tools to obtain a solid 3D model. The 3D scanner has a somewhat characteristic feature of capturing the shape and color data of the objects.
In most cases, multiple 3D scans are required for products from different angles to collect data on their shapes from different sides and these scans are combined to give actual point cloud data of an object which replicates the shape of an object or make some modifications in the product design to develop a new product out of it.
The common applications of this technology include product design or development, manufacturing, augmented reality, motion capture, gesture recognition, robotic mapping, industrial design, orthotics, and prosthetics. Reverse engineering and prototyping, quality control/inspection, and digitization of cultural artifacts are some of its other applications. These data are extensively used in the entertainment industry in the production of movies and video games, including virtual reality.
The type of scanning technique to be used depends on product size, the complexity of design, and the accuracy of output required. The accuracy of the 3D scanner for general purpose use is 0.01mm to 0.1mm. 3D scanners can be contact types like CMM or non-contact types like portable and handheld 3D scanners.
The point cloud data obtained through 3D scanning is of not much use until the solid model based on the data is not constructed using reverse engineering tools. The STL format point cloud data is cleaned for the noise with unwanted data removed and the data is aligned with the surface for ease of various operations to create a solid 3D model. Various textures and colors can also be captured by 3D scanning and modeled accordingly to replicate the available solid product. This technique helps in easing the measurement task on a product that is difficult due to its size or its location.