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Reverse Engineering

As we have all grown up, we have been taught to understand what things are, what their purpose is and how they are created. It’s part of the human condition to want to know how something works, we’re inquisitive, and for many of us, exploring the inner workings and processes of what surrounds us comes naturally. It is safe to say that nearly all of us have constructed something at least once, whether it was restoring an old vehicle or building a piece of flatpack furniture. Whether you love constructing items or not, these little tasks have enabled us to learn and understand how something is made from start to finish. This motion of living with a start to finish approach to on life is incredibly conventional and something that we all do.

However, what do you do if you don’t know how to do something? There are always situations where we may feel like we have no idea where to start. Most of the time we go to friends, family or professionals to listen to some shared advice on what they have done before. In the construction and mechanical engineering industry, if there is something that you want to replicate or fully understand how it was built, you follow a process called Reverse Engineering (RE).

Reverse Engineering is a fascinating process because you work backwards in the making process rather than going forwards. With reverse engineering, the design engineer starts with the final product and works through the design process in the opposite direction as this then directs them to the original product design specification. By doing this, it allows the design engineer to gain a stronger understanding of how that item was made as they would have discovered vital information about the design concept and the manufacturing methods while going through the process.

Stag Head


When we first start a reverse engineering project, we often find that we have no drawings or CAD models of the item. There are two options on how to record the object. We can either build the object in CAD or we can use one of our 3D scanners (Steinbichler Comet L3D Scanner or HandySCAN 700 Portable 3D Scanner). Once recorded, we can take the data and with a few tweaks we will create it into a final CAD file. Now we have the detailed dimensions of the object that we are working on, we can refine them into a final part by using a software programme called Autodesk inventor. Once the CAD model is complete, it is then ready to be manufactured. Ultimately, by 3D scanning the object, it allows us to gain vital information of the object and then allows us to remodel if necessary for a variety of printing methods.

3D Scanning

We have had a wide range of projects that have required the use of the reverse engineering process such as stag heads, a musical instrument travel case and even some scanned heirlooms for a Manor House. The opportunities are endless, and we do love a challenge! Reverse engineering is a great process as it allows design to be replicated easier than manual alternatives, it preserves a design or model for future reference, and it also allows designs and concepts to be shared among a wider audience.

Do you have a project in mind that may involve 3D printing? Find out how our 3D printing services can bring your idea to life by getting in touch with our team.