Monthly Archives

January 2019

What is Reverse Engineering?

What is Reverse Engineering? Physical Digital Reverse Engineering Services

It is a very common question asked, what is reverse engineering?

In mechanical engineering, the term reverse engineering (often abbreviated to RE) is used to summarise the process of reconstructing an existing object. When designing an object from scratch, an engineer will draw up a design specification and produce drawings from which the item is constructed.

Conversely, with reverse engineering, the design engineer starts with the final product and works through the design process in the opposite direction to arrive at the product design specification. During the process, vital information about the design concept and manufacturing methods is discovered.

The process of reverse engineering begins by gaining dimensional information of the object via 3D scanning, whether it is a mechanical component, a consumer product or an ancient artefact.

Reverse engineering involves acquiring three-dimensional positional data in the point cloud. There are many ways of gathering valuable dimensional information about the product, but using an accurate 3D measuring system is paramount. The accuracy of the data captured will impact the quality and deviation of the Reverse Engineered model when compared to the original.

Physical Digital uses the globally-recognised GOM 3D structured light scanning systems, which offer highly-accurate, traceable and repeatable measurement. The surface data captured is then passed to our in-house design team to establish the original design intent of the object.

What is Reverse Engineering used for?

Reverse engineering enables the duplication of an existing part by capturing the component’s physical dimensions, features, and material properties. There are a wide range of reasons for reverse engineering an object, including:

Legacy Components – For many components that were designed and manufactured years ago, there are no existing 2D drawings or 3D CAD data from which to reproduce the object. Here, reverse engineering is a vital means to gain the information to recreate the product.

Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) issues – If the OEM is no longer trading or has lost design measurements, then Reverse Engineering will supply the vital product information to continue manufacturing of that object.

Design Development, Part Testing & Analysis – Through reverse engineering, a 3D product can be quickly captured in digital form and remodelled or analysed in order to achieve improved design iterations.

Competitor Analysis – Any organisation can analyse competitor products through reverse engineering.

Bespoke and Ancient objects – Where there is no information about the dimensions of an object except for the physical item itself, the quickest and most reliable way to reproduce it will be by reverse engineering. Where a product is organic in shape (not a standard geometry such as cuboid or cylindrical), designing in CAD may be challenging as it can be difficult to ensure that the CAD model will be acceptably close to the sculpted model. Reverse engineering avoids this problem as the physical model is the source of the information for the CAD model.

Modern manufacturing – methods such as Additive Manufacturing rely on reverse engineering.

Digital Archiving – Museum pieces and historic artefacts can be captured through 3D scanning, then reverse engineered and the resulting CAD data can be held in case of any future damage to the object or any need to reproduce parts of the item.

 

Time and cost-effective way to produce models and products

The process of reverse engineering is particularly cost effective if the items to be reverse engineered represent a significant financial investment or will be reproduced in large quantities. Another advantage presented by reverse engineering is in compressing the product development cycle. In a highly competitive global market, manufacturers constantly strive to shorten lead-times to bring a new product to market. With reverse engineering, a 3D model can be quickly captured in digital form and remodelled if necessary or exported for a variety of manufacturing methods such as Additive Manufacturing, Vacuum Casting or CNC machining.

How to capture the data for Reverse Engineering 

Representing the geometry of the part in terms of surface points is the first step in creating parametric or free-form surfaces. A highly accurate and dense polygon mesh is created from the point cloud using the native measurement software or a dedicated reverse engineering software.

The added benefit of a photogrammetry system provides even greater certainty of the data captured for larger objects, such as entire aircraft or boats. Photogrammetry is a separate metrology system designed to capture reference points using multiple digital images, using a verified DSLR camera. The GOM 3D scanning system can use these reference points to extend the potential scanning area, which means it is possible to capture larger items, which can then be reverse engineered.

Reverse engineering process

Depending on the downstream application for the CAD model, different types of surfaces can be created. For example, this could range from producing a fully parametric CAD model which can be easily modified, which is likely to be required when undertaking redesign or optimisation. Compared to where the part is going to be remanufactured or analysed, when a clean representation could be employed.

Through the use of inspection software, analysis of the CAD model is performed and reported to the Client. This highlights the maximum deviations between the scan data and CAD model and documents that the requirements of the specification have been met.

Why do we use Computer Aided Design (CAD)? 

Through the use of various CAD and reverse engineering software, we can create accurate data for manufacturing, analyse how it will perform and improve existing designs.

CAD is used to create two- or three-dimensional (2D or 3D) graphical representations of physical objects. In product and industrial design, CAD is used mainly for the creation of detailed 3D solid or surface models, or 2D vector-based drawings of physical components. However, CAD is also used throughout the engineering process from conceptual design and layout of products, through strength and dynamic analysis of assemblies, to the definition of manufacturing methods. This allows an engineer to analyse design variants, to find the optimal design for manufacturing while minimising the use of physical prototypes

How much does 3D scanning cost?

How much does 3D scanning cost? 3D scanning at Physical Digital Facility

One of the first things customers would like to know when they contact Physical Digital is how much does 3D scanning cost?

The answer is that the cost of 3D scanning can vary greatly from project to project and there are many factors that need to be taken into consideration when quoting. The team at Physical Digital® team assess the following to provide an accurate cost:

Scale of object:

Physical Digital have the capability to capture large-scale objects in high-resolution, but the level of detail required downstream for the project will affect the process used, time taken and overall cost. Photogrammetry is often used as the initial data capture method to generate a highly-accurate point cloud which is referenced by the ATOS Triple scan sensor. This will help to reduce deviation on large-scale projects such as aircraft.

Complexity of the object:

Physical Digital deliver their 3D scanning services using world-renowned GOM metrology equipment, which works by line of site. This means that it captures highly-accurate surface data by projecting a phase-shifting fringe pattern using 3D structured blue light onto the surface of your object. The more complex and detailed the surface, the more scans and time it will take to capture the data, influencing the overall cost of the project.

Number of components to be scanned:

Whilst we often scan single components, for multiple-part scans we have an automated measurement facility which offers a significant cost benefit as a batch measurement solution. Where required, our in-house design team can design and manufacture bespoke or modular fixtures to enable even faster scanning of these parts, which can greatly reduce the cost per object.

Location:

When quoting for a project we will take into consideration where the 3D scanning will take place, i.e. if you will be sending the part/s to be scanned at our facility in Surrey, or if you require our mobile 3D scanning services to be delivered on-site, at a location of your choice. Many of our customers see the benefits of on-site scanning as it reduces the overall down-time of the part, subsequently reducing the length of the project.

Deliverable:

We can provide the raw scan data, however we are also able to provide you with in-depth inspection reports or our expert in-house design team can reverse engineer a surface model into CAD and provide manufacturing drawings. The complexity of the object will directly affect the time it will take to be reverse engineered which will of course affect the price.

Downstream use of the data:

Considering what the data will be used for is also an important consideration when quoting on new projects.  For example if the part is being used for special/visual analysis then the resolution can be reduced speeding up the measurement process and therefore reducing the overall project cost.

 

Physical Digital is the largest and longest-established approved GOM service provider in the UK, providing high-accuracy, fully traceable data to a wide variety of industrial sectors and beyond. Our experienced team will work with you to tailor a measurement solution to suit your requirements, whether that is to be completed at our facility in Surrey or on-site at your place of work.

To find out how Physical Digital’s 3D scanning services could support your project, contact us today on +44 (0) 1483 750200 for a no-obligation 3D scanning quote or to chat with one of our team to find out more.

WSR’s Dick Bennetts Motorsport Honour

Dick Bennetts celebrates winning the 2018 British Touring Car Championship Teams' title with Team BMW.

Dick Bennetts has been honoured in his homeland by being named as a founder member of the New Zealand International Grand Prix Legends’ Club. The WSR Team Principal was inducted at a special legends’ lunch during the New Zealand Motor Cup event at Hampton Downs last Sunday (27 January).

Unable to attend in person, Dick’s membership was accepted on his behalf by friend and fellow inductee David Oxton.

Born and raised in Dunedin on New Zealand’s South Island in 1947, Dick developed a love of motorsport from an early age and, keen to pursue his career in Europe, accompanied Oxton – the reigning New Zealand Formula Ford Champion – on what was billed as a two-year stint in the UK in 1972.

After working for Fred Opert Racing and March Engineering, Dick joined Ron Dennis’ Project 4 operation and engineered Niki Lauda to the BMW M1 Procar title in 1979 and Stefan Johansson to the British Formula 3 crown the following season.

Setting up West Surrey Racing in early 1981 to run Jonathan Palmer; racing protégé of West Surrey Engineering boss Mike Cox, Dick oversaw an incredible debut race win and debut championship victory for the team.

It was the first of five British titles to be won by WSR; Ayrton Senna, Mauricio Gugelmin, Mika Hakkinen and Rubens Barrichello also triumphing. Two Macau GP wins and several one-off victories in Germany, Italy and Japan were also achieved as well as 56 British F3 victories – a record at the point at which the team exited the series at the end of 1995.

Dick moved WSR into the British Touring Car Championship in 1996; an ultra-successful period for the team that has brought them ‘Manufacturer’ status with Ford, Honda, MG and, since 2017, BMW.

In that time, a host of top-level drivers, including Paul Radisich, Nigel Mansell, Tom Kristensen, Andy Priaulx and Colin Turkington have climbed behind the wheel of WSR-run cars and achieved great success.

In total, WSR have won three BTCC Drivers’ titles, four Teams’ crowns and three Manufacturers’ championships; each one coming in the past decade with BMWs, plus 80 victories, nearly 300 podiums, and a race win in the FIA World Touring Car Championship.

WSR have also undertaken extensive motorsport and motoring research and development programmes for a variety of clients and have also used their circuit design consultancy to assist with the creation in the past decade of the Dubai Autodrome, UAE, and Hampton Downs, New Zealand, plus the redevelopment of Silverstone’s Formula 1 circuit.

Dick shows no signs of slowing up either; the 2018 season being one of WSR’s best ever as the team; based in Sunbury-on-Thames, won the BTCC Drivers’, Teams’ and Manufacturers’ titles and head into the new year targeting further success.

 

Dick Bennetts, WSR Team Principal, said: “I feel incredibly humbled to be a founding member of the New Zealand International Grand Prix Legends’ Club. For a country of less than five million people, my homeland has made an incredible contribution to global motorsport through racing folk like Bruce McLaren, Denny Hulme, Ken Smith, Scott Dixon and Brendon Hartley and I feel honoured to even have my name spoken in the same sentence as these guys. While the WSR success story has been UK-based, I am a proud New Zealander and it’s the skills and ingenuity I learnt and developed as a young engineer there that have been the catalyst to everything that has followed over the past 45 years. It’s an extremely proud moment and is a tribute to everyone that’s played a part WSR’s successes and those that came before.”

Press release credit: WSR

For media enquiries please contact: Jamie O’Leary (jamie@topstepcommunications.co.uk)

 

Physical Digital is the largest and longest-established approved GOM service provider in the UK, providing high-accuracy, fully traceable data to a wide variety of industrial sectors and beyond. Our experienced team are proud to support WSR with their 3D scanning and measurement needs, and look forward to supporting them during the upcoming BTCC 2019 season.

To find out how Physical Digital’s 3D scanning services could support your project, contact us today for a no-obligation quote or to chat with one of our team to find out more. Our team will work be delighted to with you to tailor a measurement solution to suit your requirements, whether that is to be completed at our facility in Surrey or on-site at your place of work.

Review of 2018 for Physical Digital®

With a new year ahead, we thought it was time for a bit of reflection over 2018 and what a busy year it has been!

Physical Digital’s team of hardworking engineers have certainly travelled some miles this year, as GOM 3D measurement service providers we have driven the length and breadth of the UK and have been lucky enough to travel to some international customers to deliver 3D measurement in Singapore and Japan! We have been to conferences, trade shows, awards events, delivered educational talks to multiple universities, launched a new website, achieved our ISO 9001:2015 certification, expanded our team, supported our technical partners and captured an obscene amount of surface data (our IT team love us!). That’s a lot of stuff!!

A busy year for Physical Digital as GOM 3D measurement service providers

Our 3D measurement, reverse engineering and quality inspection services were in high-demand throughout 2018.  But that didn’t stop us from supporting future Engineers! We were proud to be able to support two Formula Student university teams last year by providing 3D scanning and reverse engineering for their engines and various parts, helping the students in their quest to build a single seat race car for the IMECHE competition. We are delighted to be doing the same this year having already partnered with Portsmouth University Formula Student Team, UP Racing.

As recommended providers of 3D measurement using GOM metrology systems, we were employed to complete a vast number of scans for the automotive sector and lost count of the number of full vehicle benchmarks that we completed out on site, as well as at our facility in Guildford. We were also lucky enough to scan many clay model vehicle designs in the automotive design studios throughout 2018. It’s fantastic seeing something go from concept to production and being part of that process.

We also attended a number of trade shows, but one of the most memorable was the Royal Navy Engineering Challenge. This was a new show for us, and it was great to see young engineers so excited to learn about the innovative 3D scanning technology. There was a great buzz about the whole event, so we will look forward to attending that one again this year. Another stand out event was the new Siemens Digital University held at Silverstone. A great audience who were keen to understand how 3D scanning can benefit businesses by providing accurate, high-quality 3D data using industry-leading GOM measurement systems, which can help assist product design, refine production processes and improve product efficiency.

Always a highlight in our calendar is the BTCC season launch in April as it sees the start of an exciting summer of motor racing! Physical Digital have proudly supported triple Championship winners WSR during 2018 by providing our 3D scanning and reverse engineering services which helps the team complete vital analysis of their race cars and we look forward to working with them again throughout this year. 2018 also saw a new technical partnership evolve for Physical Digital.  We were commissioned by the talented Blades Racing Team to provide 3D scanning for their Edge 540 race plane, providing them with traceable, high-accuracy data enabling the team to complete vital analysis and simulate the plane in different scenarios using a CAE package. This will aid future development of the aircraft, improve aerodynamics and performance. 2019 will be another exciting year for The Blades, so once again we look forward to working together.

We also had the delight of being joined by Courtney, our summer intern, last year, who came to work alongside us to increase her knowledge of high-accuracy 3D scanning and its benefits. She was a great asset to the team during her short time with the company. Courtney was excited to share what she had learnt at Physical Digital with her peers from university, resulting in us  delivering another educational presentation to engineering students at Cambridge University on all things 3D measurement.

 

Working across many industrial sectors means that our services often cross-over into new arenas, enabling us to offer new and intuitive solutions to niche market areas. In 2018 our experience in the automotive sector crossed over into the world of art, when we were commissioned to scan a Lamborghini Countach for wire-frame artist Benedict Radcliffe. The results are simply stunning and really showcase how 3D measurement can help support a vast array of businesses to achieve the best results using our highly-accurate 3D data.

One of our biggest achievements of 2018 was being awarded our ISO 9001:2015 UKAS certification for Quality Management. Quality is at the very forefront of our business, without it we couldn’t offer the high-levels of service that we do. Whilst we have been certified to the ISO 9001:2008 QMS for the past 5 years, it was a long process of refining procedures and introducing new and improved business processes. We are very proud the hard work paid off and that we can continue to offer such an exceptional level of quality to our customers.

We rounded off the year with a little international trip to Japan and Singapore where two of our experienced engineers provided our 3D scanning services on site to one of our much-valued customers at one of their international plants. It is always great to travel and experience new cultures, whilst marvelling customers with the level of detailed data our GOM metrology systems can achieve. Let’s hope there will be lots more travel throughout 2019!

2018 has been a year of cars, turbine blades, automotive design studios, motorbikes, art, aeroplanes, satellites, industrial gas turbines, race tracks and more. We are very much looking forward to what 2019 has to offer our growing business!