How to Reverse Engineer a Product Design from a 3D Scan

Mastering the challenges of reverse engineering in a 3D scan to CAD workflow
Mastering the challenges of reverse engineering in a 3D scan to CAD workflow

There are times when it is either necessary or beneficial to analyze an existing product or structure to create a similar product. Reverse engineering can solve problems, improve a current model, or even analyze a competitor’s model to build a similar product. Reverse engineering in product design starts with a finished product and deconstructs that to better design a similar product.

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Mastering the challenges of reverse engineering in a 3D scan to CAD workflow
Mastering the challenges of reverse engineering in a 3D scan to CAD workflow

3D Scanning Reverse Engineering Made Easy

Reverse Engineering made easy with Convergent Modeling

A 3D scan to CAD workflow supports engineers in mastering the challenges of reverse engineering, like improving or recreating an already existing object for which no design documentation is available. After 3D scanning an object for reverse engineering, the file can be directly imported into the 3D CAD software using formats such as STL or OBJ.



However, it is important to note: 3D scanners don’t output a ready-to-manufacture model but point cloud or polygon mesh data. As a result, the 3D scanned data must be further modeled in a CAD software.

Siemens’ software allows you to bring scanned data in as facets, so there is no need to map surfaces, create solids, or do manual shape creations.

A 3D scan to CAD workflow supports engineers in mastering the challenges of reverse engineering, like improving or recreating an already existing object for which no design documentation is available. After 3D scanning an object for reverse engineering, the file can be directly imported into the 3D CAD software using formats such as STL or OBJ.



However, it is important to note: 3D scanners don’t output a ready-to-manufacture model but point cloud or polygon mesh data. As a result, the 3D scanned data must be further modeled in a CAD software.

Siemens’ software allows you to bring scanned data in as facets, so there is no need to map surfaces, create solids, or do manual shape creations.

Scan to CAD

Reverse engineering scan to part

The 3D scan to CAD workflow is more than “just pressing a button” and the skills of highly qualified engineers are required for reverse engineering.



Continuous technology improvements minimize the manual work the design engineer needs to invest in to produce high-quality 3D CAD models used for traditional manufacturing or 3D printing. Today, the 3D CAD software that is used as part of a 3D scan to CAD workflow imports the scanned data as facets, so there's no need to map surfaces, create solids, or do any other manual shape creation.

The 3D scan to CAD workflow is more than “just pressing a button” and the skills of highly qualified engineers are required for reverse engineering.



Continuous technology improvements minimize the manual work the design engineer needs to invest in to produce high-quality 3D CAD models used for traditional manufacturing or 3D printing. Today, the 3D CAD software that is used as part of a 3D scan to CAD workflow imports the scanned data as facets, so there's no need to map surfaces, create solids, or do any other manual shape creation.

3D Scanning

3D Mesh from a Laser Scanner

3D Mesh from a 3D Scanner

3D scanners are equipped to scan objects of all shape and sizes. Specialized sensors scan the object from multiple angles and convert the object into a 3D mesh.

There are several 3D scanning technologies:

  • Structured light 3D scanning 
  • Laser triangulation 3D scanning 
  • Laser pulse 3D scanning 
  • Contact-based 3D scanning 
  • Photogrammetry 

3D Mesh from a 3D Scanner

3D scanners are equipped to scan objects of all shape and sizes. Specialized sensors scan the object from multiple angles and convert the object into a 3D mesh.

There are several 3D scanning technologies:

  • Structured light 3D scanning 
  • Laser triangulation 3D scanning 
  • Laser pulse 3D scanning 
  • Contact-based 3D scanning 
  • Photogrammetry 

Modeling 3D Scanned Data to Improve Quality in Design

Modeling 3D scanned CAD data

Quality control as part of the design process

Quality management should always be part of the design process. To meet the increasing demand for digitizing high-quality designs and CAD models, 3D scan to CAD is critical for getting products to market faster and without flaws. As quality requirements and processes evolve to be more complex, modeling scanned parts becomes more of a challenge.



A 3D scan accurately represents the real object, including defects. As part of the 3D modeling process, the scanned part gets inspected, and a color deviation map can be generated to detect warps or missing pieces.



In addition, a 3D CAD software for reverse engineering allows you to compare whether different scanned parts have the correct dimensions, or you can compare the adjustments of two similar machines to determine whether there are differences in the alignment to correct.

Quality control as part of the design process

Quality management should always be part of the design process. To meet the increasing demand for digitizing high-quality designs and CAD models, 3D scan to CAD is critical for getting products to market faster and without flaws. As quality requirements and processes evolve to be more complex, modeling scanned parts becomes more of a challenge.



A 3D scan accurately represents the real object, including defects. As part of the 3D modeling process, the scanned part gets inspected, and a color deviation map can be generated to detect warps or missing pieces.



In addition, a 3D CAD software for reverse engineering allows you to compare whether different scanned parts have the correct dimensions, or you can compare the adjustments of two similar machines to determine whether there are differences in the alignment to correct.

Rapidly Create CAD Models from Physical Objects

Reverse Engineering

Scanned Data Product Analysis

Reverse Engineering is made up of powerful features that allow you to build a custom solution. NX allows you to bring the scanned data in as facets, so there's no need to map surfaces, create solids, or do any other manual shape creation.

Easy Scan to CAD Workflow with NX

Easy Scan to CAD Workflow with NX

NX CAD Reverse Engineering Software Dashboard

You can start using reverse engineering software to incorporate imported 3D scan data into your design process in minutes. NX allows you to bring the scanned data in as facets, so there's no need to map surfaces, create solids, or do any other manual shape creation. You can scan your data and immediately begin building supports for 3D printing, creating molds based on the shape, including it in an assembly, analyzing it, or performing any other operation that you would do with CAD data.



The first technology of its kind, Convergent Modeling ™ Technology allows designers to combine facets, surfaces, and solids in one model without converting data. This allows facet data to now be an equal part of the design process.