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How To: Reverse Engineering for the Model-Based Enterprise

How To: Reverse Engineering for
the Model-Based Enterprise

By Verisurf Software, Inc.

Reverse engineering is about discovering design intent. No one knows this better than Verisurf Software, which is built on a robust 3D CAD platform. The Verisurf modules — Reverse, Build, Measure, and Analysis — are tools for capturing and analyzing data, and reverse engineering to create CAD models for as-built and as-is comparisons to a CAD authority.

Innovative reverse engineering techniques are currently being applied in virtually every aspect of the design and build process today, including:

  • Capturing organic and other complex surface profiles as part of the design process
  • Scanning complex surface profiles for model-based inspection
  • 3D scanning of castings and parts with large surface areas to program more efficient machine tool paths
  • Recreating legacy parts during Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul (MRO) that either lack CAD data, or are subject to stress, causing the original part specification to no longer apply

Though each of these reverse engineering applications is vastly different they all have one thing in common:

the need to capture highly accurate surface points and reverse engineer them back into 3D CAD models for manufacturing and inspection.

With the right set of tools, the process of reverse engineering is very straightforward. Depending on the complexity of the part and associated data to be captured, you should select the most appropriate 3D measuring device. There are many to choose from including portable or stationery CMMs equipped with a variety of probing systems or non-contact scanners. Contact vs. non-contact scanning is a popular question. To get the right answer you need to ask another question: how much data is needed to get the desired results? Non-contact scanning is capable of capturing millions of points, creating very large point clouds, which is great but, there is a processing cost overhead associated with large point clouds. On the other hand, touch probing, though more accurate, can take more time to capture enough points to create a good 3D model.

The quickest part of the reverse engineering process is usually the scanning or digitizing of the part. Manipulating the points, on the other hand, can be quite time consuming to obtain a manufacturing quality 3D model. This is where Verisurf software shines, it effectively manages, analyzes, displays and reports reverse engineered data in near real time, regardless of measuring device or size of data being processed – from a few touch probe points to more than one million points per-second; Verisurf software is optimized for speed and accuracy.

Verisurf software effectively automates much of the reverse engineering process with built-in productivity features, like the ‘Do It’ function that runs macros for quick alignment, registration, analysis, and reporting, saving considerable time. The process is broken down into three steps:


Verisurf software and a suitable CMM or scanner are used to measure and capture 3D surfaces as point clouds, and features including planes, cylinders, cones, spheres, lines, splines, circles, and slots. As the term point cloud infers the collected data is a group of relative points in space without any connecting structure or geometry between them. Verisurf is an open software platform and supports all digital measuring devices and common database formats.


Verisurf software will “connect the dots” of the point cloud data applying geometry to create a watertight mesh or STL model ready for surfacing and suitable for 3D printing. This includes alignment and merging of meshes, filtering, smoothing and filling holes. For some applications, like 3D copying, this step is as far as you need to go.


In order to comply with the design intent of the authority data in a 3D CAD model, the mesh file must be converted into 3D surfaces and ultimately – a solid model. This is accomplished by Verisurf software, which can also be used to manipulate the CAD data and create a true solid model. The intelligent model can be used in conjunction with other Verisurf modules, like Build for guided assembly, or Measure for automated inspection. Verisurf is an open software platform, which means you can also export the 3D CAD model to any popular CAD format to support other manufacturing applications and databases.

Verisurf Software, Inc.
Verisurf Software, Inc. is an advanced three-dimensional measurement solutions company committed to delivering advanced computer-aided inspection and reverse engineering solutions. Verisurf software helps manufacturers of all sizes and industries produce higher quality products in less time and at a lower cost with automated, Model-Based Inspection processes. For more information, visit the Verisurf website at https://verisurf.com.