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Reverse Engineering and 3D CAD Modelling Methods


Reverse engineering has advanced significantly in recent years as a result of advancements in software, scanning technologies, and greater demand produced by 3D printing. Scanning and obtaining the 3D model is a simple process. Modifying the model or converting it to feature-based CAD takes the most time. Geomagic Design X is the greatest software available for producing CAD from scanned data.

It comes with all of the tools needed to execute any reverse engineering assignment. The sole disadvantage of Geomagic Design X is the price, but if you have frequent reverse engineering needs, it is worthwhile to invest in a full-fledged package. Space Claim is a good alternative to Geomagic Design X, and the price is equally reasonable. If you already have the CAD software SolidWorks or Rhino3D, Xtract3D and Mesh2Surface are also viable options.

Reverse engineering simplifies the design process by utilizing existing knowledge and building on it. It eliminates the need to start from scratch. The procedure starts with an existing part, measures its surface, and then uses that data to build the new design. It entails obtaining a better knowledge of how and why the original part was designed in the manner that it was (known as design intent). When designing the new part, use this intelligence to your advantage. It lowers product development costs and shortens the design cycle.

What is Reverse Engineering?

The act of creating a geometric CAD model from data obtained by scanning an existing physical model is known as reverse engineering. The measurements are in the form of 3D point clouds that correspond to points on the surface of the re-engineered object. Using CAD models to represent scanned objects is very significant in many sectors since it helps to enhance design quality and productivity. Furthermore, they accelerate the manufacturing and analytical processes. Constraints are discovered and maintained automatically. Constraints convey design intent while also ensuring resilience.

Reverse engineering is when a product or system is deconstructed to figure out how it was built. In computer-aided design (CAD), a model is usually built the opposite way – from an original design to a final prototype.

Traditional methods can be used, such as measuring and drawing the object’s dimensions by hand, but using CAD scanning techniques is a better option when trying to capture complex information.

When using CAD to reverse engineer a product, it has to be scanned and measured using rapid surfacing and solid modeling techniques. 3D scan data is the most efficient way to generate a CAD model from a physical object. It is the most critical step in the process of reverse engineering a product.

During the process, both hardware and software are used. The hardware measures the object and the software is used to reconstruct it, much like a new design would be created. The hardware that can be used in capturing the object includes a laser scanner, a structured light digitizer, or a measuring machine.

Once the information from the physical object is captured, the data needs to be analyzed and deconstructed so that a new design can be created from it. That’s where CAD software comes in. 

Applications of Reverse Engineering

Reverse engineering is useful for the following purposes:

  • Enhancing or altering the design of current products
  • Components for construction that are entirely compatible with existing items 
  • Parts that have become worn or broken must be repaired 
  • Creating a CAD file for legacy parts that do not have drawings or CAD.
  • Surfaces or features that are extremely difficult to replicate without reverse engineerings, such as organic-shaped portions

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CAD Software for Reverse Engineering

Here are a few programs that can be used in reverse engineering as well as a few of their benefits.

1. HighRES for Autodesk Inventor

Autodesk makes an add-in for their AutoCAD software, Inventor, that supports the reverse engineering process. It is compatible with most 3D scanner software so that the data is transferred into the program. Its benefits include the ability to scan point clouds and measurements directly into the software, obtain raw data from the scans that can be converted into real CAD models, and the capability of digitizing parametric models into the feature tree.

2. Point Cloud

This plug-in is compatible with AutoCAD and gives users the ability to reconstruct the geometry of an object. It used point cloud technology to recreate a surface using a draping method. The surface is formed along the drape direction. It claims to be user-friendly for even those new to reverse engineering.


This CAD package includes all the tools needed to recreate an existing product, from importing and evaluating data to creating the models to creating molds, to eventually 3D printing a prototype. It has tools such as Auto Trace that allow for importing of paper sketches, to surfacing tools that allow for editing the geometry of the object.

4. Geomagic Design X

Formerly known as Rapidform XOR, this software works with existing CAD software to process your scans into information you can manipulate. Rather than creating point clouds or meshes like most scanners, it creates manufacturing-ready models. Because it works with the software you already use, it is easy to learn.

5. Reverse

Aptly named, this software has the tools needed to develop a product from the scan of the original product to the design for the creation of the parts of a new product. It can use mixed modeling techniques to blend meshes, surfaces, and geometrics into a single design.

6. Imagix 4D

Not all products that are reverse-engineered are 3D objects. Computer software is often copied to build other applications or improve upon current ones. When that is the case, the software is needed to reverse engineer code. Imagix 4D can analyze source code so that it can be duplicated or modified.

7. SpaceClaim

SpaceClaim is also available as standalone software. It creates CAD models from STL files using a direct modeling approach. It’s quite good at working with STL files. It is capable of quickly creating complicated solid bodies from scratch. It is capable of tracing the facets of an STL file and generating curves from it. It also aids in the cleanup of sloppy and noisy scans. Worn-out components of scanned components can be repaired.

8. Xtract3D (Plug-in for SolidWorks)

It is a specialized and reasonably priced SolidWorks plug-in for reverse engineering. It operates as an Add-in in the SolidWorks native environment, so the interface stays familiar. Using 3D scan data as a guide, a CAD model can be generated by manually extracting features and sketching using accessible tools. This is an error-free method of converting a scan model to a CAD model. Without slowing, Xtract3D can handle big-scan data files quite effectively.

9. Mesh2Surface

Mesh2Surface is a Rhino3D plug-in that may be used to generate CAD models from 3D scanned data. It has capabilities for making 2D sketches that are comparable to those found in Photoshop. The main features of Mesh2Surface are 3D drawings for drawing on mesh and the Autosurface tool for extracting freeform organic surfaces.

Benefits of Reverse Engineering

  • It aids in the exploration of existing products and designs, which may then be used to create or improve a new design.
  • Reverse engineering can be used to reconstruct outdated designs.
  • Reverse engineering can be used to assess designs that are decades old to identify design strengths and defects. This can lead to better designs and higher-quality products in the future.
  • Reverse engineering can be used to decrease design lead cycles and get a product to market faster. With shorter lead cycles, the product’s cost decreases as well.
  • Reverse engineering aids in the creation of a CAD model for future use. The CAD model can be saved and retrieved as needed.

The conceptual design is represented by the CAD model, which serves as the blueprint. Since the manufacturing process is ambiguous, every manufactured part will differ somewhat from the CAD model.

The practice of meticulously studying an existing physical part to extract and build CAD characteristics to manufacture the new part is known as reverse engineering. Poor manufacturing or wear and tear can frequently obscure the intended objective. Remember this while you’re reconstructing the part from scan data to CAD. It will ensure that you capture the true intent of the designer while ignoring any flaws.

It’s also critical to recognize that you’re making a new part to fit your design objective. The existing section should only be used as a guide. Finally, you must select which features to maintain and which changes, if any, are required.

INDOVANCE Inc with its exclusive delivery hub in India is a global CAD outsourcing partner serving the needs of the AEC industry since 2003. At INDOVANCE we focus on the unique need of each project or client and believe in addressing the real challenges and guarantee that the process will be well-coordinated, smooth, efficient, and hassle-free.  We collaborate with our customers around the world to develop bespoke business solutions using our enormous engineering talent pool.

Having 18+ of experience in the AEC industry has made us realize that providing Outsourcing services is more than quality and cost. It is an overall experience that we want our clients to relish. INDOVANCE works as your extended virtual arm, aligning with your culture & processes, and firmly believes in the concept of ONENESS for mutual Growth.

For more queries regarding any of the above-mentioned topics, feel free to connect with us on our website www.indovance.com or contact us on +1-919-238-4044.

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