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Reverse Engineering

K.P. Karunakaran

Indian Institute of Technology Bombay
Need for Reverse Engineering
Phases of Reverse Engineering
Digitizing Methods
3D Reconstruction
Reverse Engineering is the practice of studying a finished product, a
physical device or a software package, in order to learn something
about how it works or how it was manufactured. We shall be
concerned with RE of physical objects only.
Traditionally, RE is an accepted, legitimate practice, both in the
competitive marketplace and in technical education. It is
comparable to literature survey. It becomes unethical only when it is
launched as a product in competition to the original product it is
illegal only if it is prohibited in the form of patent or copyright which
is zone-specific.
(Geometric) Reverse Engineering (RE) is the process of creating a
mathematical representation or CAD model of an object from its
physical form. Identification of the following are equally important:
- Tolerances and surface finish
- Reconstructing missing part
- Material details (composition and condition)
- Process followed.
A part is first modeled in clay,
wood or foam by the stylist and
needs to be transferred into a
CAD model.
Only 2D drawings or master
models of the tools exist.
A change has been made into a
physical part or tool. The CAD
model should be updated with
this change.
Final parts have to be verified
against the original CAD
Need for Reverse Engineering
An old equipment or a vital
military hardware has broken
down. The supplier no longer
exists or unwilling to supply the
spare or it is too expensive or it
takes too long to import.
A patients left bone is damaged
and an implant is required to be
prepared from the right side
A competitor's product needs to
be analyzed (copied !).
i. Digitizing: Acquiring the point data
- This is known as digitizing.
- Several types of hardware are used to acquire data
ii. Reconstructing the 3D CAD model
- This is processing of the data using a software.
iii. Reconstruction of the missing parts
iv. Tolerances and fits
Phases of Reverse Engineering
Manual measurement
2D/ 3D Contact Non-destructive
Profile projector
2D Non-contact Non-destructive
Touch probe mounted on a CMM
3D Contact Non-destructive
Laser scanning
3D Non-contact Non-destructive
Industrial Computer Tomography (CT)
Slice Non-contact Non-destructive
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
Slice Non-contact Non-destructive
Ultrasonic scanning
Slice Non-contact Non-destructive
3D Non-contact Non-destructive
White light scanning
3D Non-contact Non-destructive
Face milling and measuring
Slice Both Destructive
Digitizing Methods
Touch probe
Laser scanning
Camera systems
The probes are available in different orientations
and end shapes so that different features in various
orientations can be measured in the same set up.
The required probe is chosen or activated.
The probe often has a calibrated spherical end.
Calibration is required after every physical change
of probe or a collision. For this purpose, special
calibration spheres are available.
The contact load of the probe can be set. As the
probe presses the part, when the load exceeds the
pre-set limit, it signals the CMM to stop. It also
passes on the force vector from which the CMM
calculates the coordinates of the contact point.
Touch Probe Measurement
Laser Scanners
+ Non-contact
+ No collision
+ Fast data capture
+ Soft material

- Less accurate
- Only visible surfaces

Laser scanners
Triangulation method:
An emitter and a receptor are integral
with the measuring head at a constant
distance. These two, together with the
point of measurement the point where
the emitted pulse of ray falls form a
When adequate level of signal is
received, the point on the surface can be
calculated from the current position of
the measuring head and time taken for
the flight of a pulse from the emitter to
Laser scanners
One or more views of the object are captured as an
image on film or on an electronic image sensor. The
points are marked and referenced at distinct features
on the object (a,b,c).
The software calculates the position of the camera
for each photo.
It calculates the intersection of light rays from each of
the photo positions out into 3D space.
By using multiple photographs, you can capture the
whole object or scene.
Camera Systems : Photogrammetry
Next, mark and reference
features on the photographs
using PhotoModeler's Point,
Line and Edge tools. Using the
referencing functions, instruct
PhotoModeler by matching up
points across the photos.
Take pictures using digital, film, or
video cameras, and load them in to
PhotoModeler. Shoot two or more
overlapping photos from different
angles and then import them into the
Camera Systems : Photogrammetry
One can view, zoom, rotate, or measure the
3D model in PhotoModeler's 3D Viewer. The
Point Table allows one to view and manipulate
XYZ point coordinates. Finally, export the
model to CAD, animation, or rendering
program or continue adding more photos,
points, lines, and edges with PhotoModeler's
advanced marking tools to model NURBS
curves, cylinders, and surfaces.

Now PhotoModeler is ready to process the
camera and referencing data. Using the
"Process" menu, PhotoModeler adjusts the
input data and creates 3D point data to
produce an accurate 3D model.
Camera Systems : Photogrammetry
LCD projector that
throws strip patterns
on the object
Pair of
Video: Rivage - Beginning to End.avi
Video: White Light Scanning - ATOS1.avi
Camera System : White Light Scanning
31 October 2014 By Anil Gupta www.whitelightscanning.c
Camera System : White Light Scanning
Camera System : Laser scanning (HandyScan)
Contact Type Non-contact Type
+ Accurate
- Slow
- Labor-intensive
- Cannot reach deep interior features

- Less accurate
+ Very fast
Comparison of Contact & Non-contact Types
Machine tool
Dedicated scanning
machine (Eg. Renishaws
Capturing devices
Advantages :-
Machine may already exist
Fast when integrated
Familiar to user
Large scanning area
Disadvantages :-
Machine not cutting when scanning
Slow with touch-trigger probe
Retro of old machine often is difficult.
Capturing devices
Machine tool
Advantages :-
As it is meant for this
application, it is optimal.
Large scanning area
CNC Machine tool
released for cutting
Very accurate
Disadvantages :-
Slow data capture
Few CMMs have laser
scanning capability
Capturing devices
Capturing devices
CMM - Cartesian
Make: DEA
The floor itself is used as the
The probe or the laser scanner is
mounted on a gantry.
Accuracy of 0.0002 over an
envelope of 150 x 100 x 100.
Capturing devices
CMM Cartesian
But Faro arm will have 6 or 7 rotary joints or axes similar to an
articulated or jointed-arm robot. Each joint has an encoder which
helps the controller keep track of its tips position.
FARO Arm has an envelope of over 20 feet.
It finds application where
Equipment is too large or awkward to get accurate measurements.
Complex surfaces or profiles are difficult to measure with hand tools.
Relation between different features of equipment is difficult to measure.
Inspection with hand tools is prohibitively time consuming.
It can be interfaced with a Laser Tracker or Theodolite system to
accurately recover details on much larger pieces of equipment.
Capturing devices
CMM Portable articulated - Faroarm
Capturing devices
CMM Portable articulated Faroarm
Advantages :-
Fast data capture
Small styli - fine detail
Leaves machine tool for cutting
Purpose built for scanning
Disadvantages :-
Limited working range
Limited to data digitising

Capturing devices
Dedicated scanning machine
Supports contact & non-contact scanning
- Performance 1000 - 3000 mm/min
- Up to 1000 points per second prior to data filtering.
Video: Cyclone.avi
Capturing devices
Dedicated scanning machine - Cyclone
Preparation of
soft replica
Integrated milling and
scanning machine
Layered Milling and Scanning
Industrial CT Scan
Human bodies can be scanned using Computer Tomography (CT).
The result is a picture of the human body part in slices.
Computer Tomography (CT) uses radiation in the form of a highly
collimated X-ray fan beam to slice the object. This results in points
arranged in parallel planar slices or loops. CT was initially
developed for medical applications. Of late, it is finding industrial
When carrying out image processing of these slices, rings of points
can be obtained by marking the interfaces between the various body
parts. These rings of points are then combined to form CoPs.
Standard CT scanners achieve a resolution of 512 x 512 in a layer.
Today, CT scan is slow due to the rotation of the emitter-receiver
assembly and hence gives only static images.
Industrial CT Scan
X-Ray can penetrate most objects;
Each absorb it based on their material characteristics and X-Ray
wave length.
The detector records the remaining intensity. Note that this is just a
single value and gives no clue about the objects along the path of
the ray.
Industrial CT Scan
The X-Ray transmitter and
detector assembly is rotated
around the object making
the measurements of
intensities at regular angular
Using a very complex
transformation, P(,n)
values can be converted
into the loops.
Industrial CT Scan
The data obtained from all
the slices can be rendered
in the form of voxels.

This can further be
processed to obtain B-Rep
Industrial CT Scan
The Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is yet another technique
used in the medical field to produce high quality images of the inside
of the human body.
MRI images are obtained based on different tissue characteristics
by varying the number and sequence of pulsed radio frequency
fields in order to take advantage of magnetic relaxation properties of
the tissues. MRI differs from CT in at least two key aspects:
i. MRI measures the density of a specific nucleus
ii. The MRI measurement system is volumetric, i.e., interrogation of
the entire body, within the measurement volume, is done all at
one time.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
CT and MRI represent the finest resolution capability available in
diagnostic systems achieving volumetric resolutions. During the
scanning process, the patient is stepped through the measurement
plane 2-3 mm at a time. The information from each plane can be put
together to provide a volumetric image of the structure as well as
the size and location of anatomical structures. The scanned model
becomes a virtual volume of the patients bone(s).
MRI is based on the principles of Nuclear Magnetic Resonance
(NMR), a spectroscopic technique used by scientists to obtain
microscopic chemical and physical information about molecules.
The technique was called magnetic resonance imaging rather than
Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Imaging (NMRI) because of the
negative connotations associated with the word nuclear in the late
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
The principle of operation of CT scan and MRI are very similar.
The patients is placed in a very strong but biologically harmless
magnetic field, and a microwave radio signal is beamed through the
body at a specific frequency which interacts with the water
molecules in the body, causing them to absorb a tiny amount of
energy. These molecules then produce their own little radio signals
as they re-emit the energy they absorbed from the excitation beam.
Computer software calculates the density of the body tissues at
each point in the slice and constructs an image. As with the CT
scanner, the software can manipulate the images to differentiate
tissue types as well as produce three-dimensional views,
longitudinal slices, and so forth. MRI, since it is basically imaging
water densities, is best for soft tissue and least useful for bony
structures (for which CT scanning is best).

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is yet another technique used
in the medical field to produce high quality images of the inside of
the human body.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
X-Ray : Captures only bones
3D imaging not possible

MRI : Captures soft objects such as tissues nicely
Safer. So used in children.
3D imaging possible

CT scan : Captures all objects with good clarity.
Safer than X-Ray but more harmful that MRI.
3D imaging possible

Ultrasonic : Captures soft objects but dynamically.
3D imaging possible
Not harmful at all
Comparison of Scanners
The points obtained from the device could be
Simply a cloud of points (E.g.: photogrammetry)
Organized sets of points (E.g.: Points along a scan line can be treated as a curve.
Similarly, the points are available as loops and slices in CT, MRI and ultrasonic.)
Adequate planning of the scanning process and partitioning the
scanned boundary is extremely important as
Handling the cloud of points is very tough. Any existing pattern among them
simplifies the process.
If a certain zone is of a known geometry such as fillet or cone, the reconstruction will
be easier, faster and more accurate.
It will be very frustrating at the time of reconstruction to realize that some zones were
not scanned.
In optical methods, the measurement of surface points close to its tangent will not be
accurate. Proper planning will help avoid this.
3D Reconstruction
Reconstruction involves arranging the scanned points in suitable
topological fashion. The hierarchy is vertices, edges, faces and
When the measurements are made from various direction, each
resulting patch needs to be oriented. This requires the knowledge
of the view point w.r.t. a global reference.
GOM is a well known German software for reconstruction. Most
scanners such as White Light Scanning, Faroarm and HandyScan
use this software.

3D Reconstruction
3D Reconstruction
GOM Products
3D Digitizer
Deformation Analysis
Forming Analysis
Dynamic Photogrammetry
TRITOP Deformation
Static Deformation Analysis
Direct or contact methods are more accurate but laborious and
indirect or non-contact methods are faster but less accurate.
Some digitizing methods are suitable for any object. E.g.: CT scan,
MRI scan, Ultrasonic scan etc.
Some others, such as optical techniques, require different settings
to absorb the entire data. This requires
overlapping of surfaces during scanning
registering or assembling the various scans using appropriate transformations.
Some interior hidden features cannot be captured at all using
these methods.
The knowledge of the scanning pattern helps a lot during
reconstructions. This knowledge helps in segmenting the cloud of
points into more organized arrays of points.
Thank You!

K.P. Karunakaran
Department of Mechanical Engineering
Indian Institute of Technology Bombay
Powai, Mumbai-400076, INDIA
Tel.: 022-25767530/ 9869541570