Reverse Engineering overview

The concept of reverse engineering has long been embedded in our history, from applications during periods of war to reverse engineering hardware and software. For example, Germans seized an American bazooka and reverse engineered it to develop a superior weapon during World War II: Panzerschreck. Although reverse engineering applications may have been complex and time consuming in the past, recent technologies such as Industrial Computed Tomography (CT) and 3D Scanning have provided the ability to quickly reverse engineer with ease, and accuracy.

What is Reverse Engineering

According to Webster dictionary, reverse engineering is the study of parts of something to see how it was made and how it works so that you can make something like it. It is the process of disassembling and examining or analyzing in detail (a part or device) to discover the concepts involved in manufacture, usually in order to produce something similar.  In essence, reverse engineering is the procedure of taking apart an object to understand the function, structure, design and material properties in order to duplicate, improve or simply document a part.

When is Reverse engineering necessary?

Reverse engineering may be necessary during pre-production stages of a part, during production or failure investigation. Listed below are a few of the main reasons and applications of reverse engineering:

If a manufacturer of a certain component no longer develops that part or has gone out of business, reverse engineering can be applied to retrieve part data in CAD form, in order to manufacture the component or to archive the part data.

Reverse engineering could also be applicable if the archived documentation of part is inaccurate or has been lost.

A part which requires adjustment in some form or features, a reverse engineering application can allow manipulation of the part to reflect new and improved design.

If a manufacturer is implementing a new method of manufacturing, a reverse engineering application can be helpful in retrieving useful information to improve product design and determine feasibility of manufacturing method.

Reverse engineering applications can also provide in-depth part data to analyze and update weak features of the part or strengthen durable features.

Commonly, reverse engineering is necessary when analyzing competitor strengths, part features, structure, design and resilience of part in order to understand competitors’ products.

What are the benefits of Reverse Engineering?

Reverse engineering allows users to understand a part in its entirety. This allows for several benefits:

Reverse engineering allows users to evaluate manufacturing method and its practicality, and implement news ways of developing part with current technologies to save cost and time

Reverse engineering allows users to archive invaluable part data for outdated parts, current parts and provides outlet for exploring future designs

Reverse engineering plays a significant role in research and development as a learning tool

Reverse engineering applications can provide leverage in understanding competitor products

When implemented properly, reverse engineering can provide instrumental insight on part failures, and reassurance of part design during pre-production stages of manufacturing cycle

What are the steps for Reverse Engineering?

In regards to industrial parts, reverse engineering is an analysis tool which retrieves insightful data on design of a part with little or no familiarity about the process involved with original production. Users are able to access information on how a product functions and operates, along with value of reverse engineering application according to the objective of the investigation, for example: competitive analysis.

Reverse engineering can be applied by creating a 3D virtual model of a part, intended for 3D Computer-aided design (CAD) software.

  • A part is measured in its entirety – point cloud
  • Part is reconstructed as a 3D model, compatible with CAD software



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