Case Study: Reverse Engineering Car Parts from Scan to CAD

Published on June 28, 2017. Written by: Tangie Motley

Reverse Engineering car parts scan-to-cad

Weistec Engineering is a the leader in research, development, and design of fast and reliable parts and accessories for Mercedes AMG. Based in Santa Ana, California, the company keeps nearly every aspect of conceptual 3D design and development, manufacturing process, and road and tracking in-house to insure the highest quality. The staff is relentlessly attentive to detail to deliver the best for their clients.

For Weistec Engineering, creating high performance quality product is a must.

Challenges of Conventional Method

Michael Weiss, the owner of Weistec Engineering, previously used 3D modeler software to create basic sketches and then transfer them over to SOLIDWORKS to finish the process of reverse engineering car parts.

“3D modeler software did not allow me to set an origin and [it] did not have proper tools and functions that SOLIDWORKS has,” said Weiss.

SOLIDWORKS has become one of the preferred software for creating parametric CAD models for manufacturing. For this reason, many designers and engineers would prefer to work in SOLIDWORKS.

If the sketches would not import properly, Weiss had to spend hours and hours to do a clean-up job. Weiss was frustrated with this process because of these limitations and the need convert the sketches over to SOLIDWORKS with the proper normal vector. Weiss had to deal with many tedious processes (clean-up jobs).

Weiss was looking for a better way to do reverse engineering that would provide him with the accuracy and consistency he was looking for.

SCAN-to-CAD: Reverse Engineering Directly into SOLIDWORKS

In 2012, Weiss Engineering implemented a new Scan-to-CAD process for reverse engineering. Weiss was able to reverse engineer projects much more efficiently using the MicroScribe portable CMM together with Point2CAD software.

This method enables Weiss to collect 3D measurements directly from the physical part and use them as a reference instantaneously in SOLIDWORKS to create the CAD model.

How It Works:

3D Digitizing MicroScribe

Point2CAD add-in for SOLIDWORKS provides the convenience of capturing instant live data in 3D using the MicroScribe’s touch probe.

As you collect surface measurements using the MicroScribe, the 3D coordinates are immediately collected into the SOLIDWORKS. You build each feature of the part as you go until you completely finish building the complete CAD model.

Point2CAD uses a Command Plate for a convenient mouse-free, keyboard-free operation. Touch the Command Plate icon with the MicroScribe and Point2CAD will cue the function in the software. This interface cuts the typical reverse engineering process in half, allowing for quick, reliable, and accurate reverse engineering of existing parts to CAD models.

Point2CAD command plate

You can easily create parametric solid models inside SOLIDWORKS with Point2CAD by probing geometries such as lines, arcs, slots, and splines. You can even check and receive guidance on your work for tolerances by checking the part’s deviation live in SOLIDWORKS.

MicroScribe Point2CAD

With Point2CAD, Weiss is no longer concerned with these clean-up jobs. Since Point2CAD is an add-in for SOLIDWORKS, transferring sketches across software is eliminated. It also enables Weiss to deny origins and proper coordinate systems for his sketches.

Point2CAD RE Project

“The nice thing about Point2CAD is I can utilize all the tools in SOLIDWORKS while I get basic sketches using the [MicroScribe] arm.

Normally, I would rapid prototype a part that has been reverse engineered to test since casting is expensive and time-consuming. But now, I trust my CAD data more than ever. I skip the rapid-prototyping process”

Michael WeissOwner of Weiss Engineering  

Time Saver for Reverse Engineering Projects

Weiss worked on two projects where implementing this new process greatly saved time. The first project involved a Super Charger Inlet Tube. Using Point2CAD, he was able to grab splines, bolt patterns, and planes to get a perfect outline of the tube. Later, he finished by lofting and connecting these features together.

“It took about 30 min to reverse engineer this [Super Charger Inlet Tube] whereas using 3D modeler software would have taken much longer,” said Weiss.

On another project, Weistec was involved in the initial development phase of Mercedes SLS. Weiss could borrow the car for only two days to complete the work. Because of this time limitation, the team had to quickly reverse engineer the car component and rapid-prototype it for test fitting.

Weistec CAD Model
Weistec Car Part

The team finished this project on schedule. “I could not have done this without Point2CAD,” said Weiss.

Economical Reverse Engineering Solution

Weistec Engineering was able to save time and money as a result of this new reverse engineering process.

“I do not have a $100,000 arm or $30,000 reverse engineering software like other companies, but I get my job done accurately under $20,000 using Point2CAD and MicroScribe,” Weiss explained.

In addition to MicroScribe, Point2CAD also supports measuring arms with ball or point probe including:

  • MicroScribe MX/MLX/G2/G2L/3D/3DL arms
  • Kreon Ace / Baces3D arms
  • Romer Absolute and Infinite arms
  • Faro Platinum and Edge arms with USB connection

For more information on how Point2CAD can help you with your reverse engineering process, please download the product brochure.

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Super Charge Your Reverse Engineering with Point2CAD, 3D Infotech. 

GoMeasure3D is an authorized distributor of Point2CAD add-in for SOLIDWORKS and MicroScribe portable CMM.