Chapter 6 Reverse Engineering for Industrial and Consumer Applications


Reverse engineering is the process of examining or measuring an object, and accurately documenting it in three dimensions. The resulting information can then be used to reproduce, upgrade, or provide repairs to that object. It can also be used to establish a baseline model to which future measurements can be compared in order to detect any changes in a part, assembly, or installation.

The documentation most often takes the form of a CAD model, but drawings, or even tables of data could be the end result.

The process can also be used on large objects or buildings; the documentation obtained is useful in a variety of ways, such as maintenance, renovation planning, or replacement. The next chapter describes those applications.


In industrial and consumer applications, reverse engineering is the process used to create design documentation from an existing object. Because scanning technologies quickly gather data on practically 100% of a part’s surface, laser scanners are often the instruments of choice for reverse engineering. Handheld or arm-mounted scanners are most commonly used since most objects for industrial and consumer applications are generally smaller in size. Photogrammetry, structured light scanners, and tracker-based scanners are also, but less commonly, used. Long-range scanners are seldom used.

The needs for reverse engineering are varied. One reason ...

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