The New Evolution of Reverse Engineering | Superior Joining Technologies

November 14, 2016 | by : Teresa Beach-Shelow

Northern Illinois University's (NIU's) EIGERlab Center for Product Development (C4PD) is happy to announce that EIGERlab is now able to reverse engineer a part and produce a fully-functional 3D Computer-Aided Design (CAD) model with a complete feature tree. Reverse engineering has been around forever, including tactics such as manually redrawing the part, optical and laser scanning, and rapid prototyping. Currently, all parts are designed in 3D CAD software. This disconnect has been a major problem. Up until this year, reverse engineering a part and producing a usable 3D CAD model has only been a dream.


NIU EIGERlab, in a newly developed partnership with Superior Joining Technologies, Inc. (SJTI), parts are now able to be laser-scanned into a 3D CAD model allowing them to use various software packages to produce fully-functional 3D CAD models. This will allow EIGERlab to convert existing parts, art work, or heritage restoration items into usable 3D CAD models.

Reliable Machine Co. came to the C4PD to reverse engineer a part for their client, Batesville Casket Company. The client did not have drawings of the parts; however, they did have the physical parts. As an example, the parts could be scanned and converted into fully-functional 3D CAD models with a feature tree. This allowed Reliable Machine to use the 3D CAD model to design a new die to make new parts for their client.

The two photos show the difference of what the industry previously used, which is a scanned image (first photo) and what the C4PD is now able to provide (second photo), a fully functional 3D CAD model with a feature tree. The scanned image (left) is a dumb surface model. This type of file cannot be modified but it can be printed or manufactured. On the left side of this photo it shows the feature tree with the imported surfaces that the engineer is not able to modify. The CAD model (right photo) shows the feature tree on the left with surfaces, fillets, radii, diameters, etc., that an engineer can modify; as if he/she had drawn the entire model themselves. This type of file allows an engineer to make design improvements and print or manufacture the part. 

NIU EIGERlab continues to be innovative and on top of the latest technologies to help local businesses and individuals stay ahead of their competition. 

Take your project to the next level by contacting Mike Cobert at NIU EIGERlab's C4PD for additional information or quotations. Phone 815.298.0136 or via email, MCobert@EIGERlab.org.