While it is true that complex surfaces often require laser scanning to define them while reverse engineering, there is a lot more to it than a quick swipe of the laser.


It may not be glamorous, but the backbone of reverse engineering is understanding the design intent behind the part or tool in question and the attempt to recreate that intent with repeatable features. The advent of laser scanning and electronic point collection has made this task much easier, but it has not taken away from its importance.


For example, if we were to laser scan a part with simple features, we could recreate the part in a way that would allow us to machine it. However, any inconsistencies in the surface finish, reflectivity, and error in the laser would induce unnecessary error into the model. In this case, a pair of calipers and some simple point measurements using a CMM or PCMM would allow us to create repeatable CAD features that would more accurately represent the true design intent behind the part.


There are usually such recognizable features in most every part or tool that is to be reverse engineered, however, not every feature falls under that category. In that case, a tool such as the Faro® Laser Line probe, attached to a Faro® Arm, is what we use at Vector Tooling Technologies. This tool, along with a software such as Verisurf® Reverse, allows the user to capture millions of points on a complex surface and recreate it in a CAD environment. The surfaces can then be checked back to the part using the Faro® Arm’s hard probe to gauge the level of error due to reflection and other inaccuracies in the laser scanning process. This is a crucial step as a few bad points or incorrect settings in the software can lead to large degrees of error in the surfaces created in this fashion.


At Vector, the next step of the reverse engineering process is importing the created surfaces and points into a CAD software package of the customer’s choice to create the features discussed above and analyze the complex surfaces created to ensure that there is not, in fact, a definable surface that may be created inside the CAD software that more accurately represents the design intent than the 3D scan.


With this complete the final step is always checking the result back to the part or tool using a hard probe. Just because the features should be right or the surface was checked upon creation doesn’t mean that any manipulation could have skewed the final result. Check, check, and recheck.


Interested in learning more about reverse engineering or what Vector Tooling Technologies could do for you? Please contact me or email us at