Reverse engineering is the way in which a technological design or system is dismantled – either physically or virtually – in order to analyze its function, structure and mode of operation, when the operator has little or no knowledge of the original design principles underlying its construction.
Reverse engineering has its roots in military hardware, although today it goes far beyond re-engineering mechanical designs. System software can be re-engineered too, for example to correct, update or replace missing information. In mechanical engineering, RE is often used for the purposes of repair and maintenance, as well as upgrades and re-launches – though strictly speaking, any modification of the existing design is re-engineering.
Reverse engineering has come a long way. The World War II Allied Forces copied a clever German design for carrying gasoline and called it the Jerry Can. Computer aided design, modeling and engineering has revolutionized the industry, and with the advent of 3D CAD visualization and reverse engineering software any existing physical design can be recreated, dismantled, modified and tested in a virtual environment. Reverse engineering is normally on the work log of any company offering CAD CAM CAE services.
Companies use reverse engineering on both their own and competitors’ products – though naturally patent laws must not be contravened. To measure and reconstruct a physical object on screen, professional 3D scanning hardware such as laser scanners and CT scanning machines are available. These create a point cloud which is then given definition and detail via 3D modeling software.
Reverse engineering can also be utilized by cost reduction consultants, to deconstruct and analyze products for budgetary purposes. Called Value Engineering, it is just one of many services we at Enventure Technologies offer.