3D Scanning for Reverse Engineering. Why Does it Matter?

To state the obvious, 3D Scanning has turned the manufacturing industry on its head. Rapid product development has all but left traditional ways in the dust.

But let’s start from the beginning. What is 3D Scanning for reverse engineering? It is the process of obtaining a digital CAD model from points acquired by scanning and digitizing existing parts or products. Reverse engineering, also known as geometry re-creation, is a valuable and necessary step when the use of a tool has out-lived its life cycle. Very often in production environments, tooling revisions and modifications are made in order to achieve results. When it comes time to replace this customized tool, its print or CAD no longer matches reality.

Consequently, the benefits of 3D scanning for reverse engineering are substantial for manufacturers. It preserves legacy part and tooling and reduces research and development, therefore reducing time to market.

Legacy Part and Tooling Preservation

In most manufacturing circumstances, a component’s initial design intent has been partially lost as a result of production process variation or tool degradation. What was once a daunting and sometimes impossible task to do by hand, is now remedied quickly with the services of 3D scanning. Collecting 3-dimensional data from your legacy part or tooling allows for CAD models to be easily created to facilitate changes, corrections, and advancements to the product or tooling design. Reverse engineering can be used in occurrences where parts are hand modified for improved styling, ergonomics or performance and updated CAD models need to be produced.

Reduce Time to Market

In an intensely competitive global market, manufacturers are constantly seeking new ways to shorten lead-times to market their product. In order for manufacturers to stay ahead of their competition, they have to be able to satisfy fast delivery needs, without jeopardizing quality or increasing costs.

Rapid product development (RPD) is a manufacturing culture that promotes new product development in the shortest time possible. Techniques such as rapid prototyping and rapid tooling have completely modernized the manufacturing process and customer expectations.

A part that would typically take eight to 16 weeks to create, can now be produced as a high-precision model in just a couple of days. The customer is then able to do a fit check using the model and approve production with confidence.


When a blade for an aircraft needs to be replaced, oftentimes replacements, CAD data, or original tooling are unavailable or non-existent. In many cases, this is because the original manufacturer is no longer in business. Reverse engineering parts enable aircraft to keep flying and machines to keep running.

Injection-molding companies must considerably reduce the tool and die development times. By using reverse engineering, a three-dimensional product or model can be quickly captured in digital form, re-modeled, and exported for rapid prototyping/tooling or rapid manufacturing.

A designer of a smartphone case needs to know where all the buttons, cameras and audio jacks are, as well as the organic shape of the phone. They are not likely going to get this data from Apple or Samsung directly, but it needs to be right.


Behind the scenes, The QC Group has developed a rapid-response system that will transform expectations for speed of response and quote turnaround. Online requests for quotes are responded to within 5 minutes of submission, quotes in hand within 2 hours. Request yours at qcgroup.com/rfq.


Amy Gulland
Amy Gulland
Reflective, analytical, and the strategic gorilla glue as it relates to QC Group’s marketing and sales operations. With key insight for managing the relationship between marketing and sales, Amy works to ensure that both sides are optimized to connect customers with inspection and engineering knowledge where and when they need it most.

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