For more than 120 years, manufacturers globally have developed millions of machine parts and products. Technological advancements have preserved some of these product’s relevance for many years after being manufactured. All machines undergo wear and tear and often breakdown. When this happens, only the affected parts can be replaced, not the entire device. Reverse engineering is the technique that makes the replacement of broken or malfunctioning parts possible. It makes it possible for appliances, industrial machinery, agricultural equipment, aircraft, and many more to continue functioning, even beyond their lifespans. A complete understanding of its ins and outs is key to realizing its benefits.
What is Reverse Engineering?
It refers to learning a product’s components, design, operation, and construction through studies and analysis. The goal is to create a modern or better version or a copy of the device. Organic, chemical, or biological matter, computer programs, and software can also undergo reverse engineering. Companies usually utilize the technique when it is impossible to get replacement parts from the equipment’s original manufacturer.
Is it Illegal?
Before you begin recreating a device or product, it would be wise to consult a lawyer because reverse engineering’s legalities are situational. It should not cause any legal issues if the intention is to retain the functionality of legacy equipment. However, if you plan to sell the parts, it may legally put you in a gray area because making money reverse-engineered parts may be viewed as mimicking or rebranding existing equipment.
You should be okay if you are creating an add-on for the original product’s customers. Legality often becomes complicated when you require a device’s parts, but the manufacturer no longer supports the product.
How to do Reverse Engineering
Once you ascertain that reverse engineering is the right move, you will need to take the product apart to study and examine the internal mechanisms. Doing so unveils relevant information about the product’s original design and construction. The process begins with the product’s attributes and dimensions. This may involve taking the device’s key component’s widths, heights, and lengths measurements because they usually relate to its performance capacity.
Some engineers make a product’s measurements using 3D scanning techniques, which include laser scanners, measuring machines, structured light digitizers, and industrial computed tomographic scanners. It allows determining accurate readings and log in the information in the database.
After gathering and recording the pertinent information, the data is then used to develop CAD (Computer-Aided Design) drawings for the following examination and development. After completing the CAD model, 3D printing or manufacturing commences.
Reverse Engineering Purposes
Replacing Legacy Parts
Replacing legacy parts is one of the most vital reverse engineering applications. It involves analyzing and recreating larger machines’ select parts to maintain their interoperability. The cost of reverse engineering depends on the device’s size and complexity. The total costs may exceed the amount of money it would cost you to buy a different or newer model.
Developing the original design’s digital copy and successfully replicating it lets you recreate legacy parts over and over. Through it, you can reproduce parts that function according to the mechanical setups you favor.
You may need to take apart a machine if it breaks down to determine the cause and find a solution. Reverse engineering reveals a faulty design’s damaged parts, flaws and offers guidance for repairing it.
If you need to improve a machine’s performance, reverse engineering can help you alter the machine after performing failure analysis. It informs you of what components you can modify and the ones that have to be maintained.
Reverse engineering is vital for today’s manufacturing systems’ continuity. Without it, companies would have to spend a lot of money replacing machines frequently.