How to Reverse Engineer / 3D Scan a Model into SOLIDWORKS

Article by Adam Ferrer updated April 23, 2019


Recently we have been receiving questions about how to 3D scan parts into SOLIDWORKS…

“How do I convert a physical part into SOLIDWORKS?” or “we’ve lost the model file but I’ve got a physical part, how can I get it into SOLIDWORKS?”

So we have created a video tutorial to demonstrate the process of reverse engineering / 3D scanning a part into SOLIDWORKS using an Artec Space Spider 3D Scanner:

What is Reverse Engineering?

Reverse engineering is the reproduction of a previously made product by examination of the product’s construction and composition. Analyzing a component, sub-assembly, or product is important to understanding the structure and its interrelationships. Reverse engineering is a commonly used technique for situations when there is no access to drawings, CAD data, information on dimensions, or if machined parts have been discontinued.

Taking a product, measuring all dimensions and analyzing the materials it is composed of can be a tedious and time-consuming process. Parts with complex geometry will be difficult to measure and replicate to complete accuracy due to its intricate design features.

Reverse engineering a part with a 3D scanner provides the following benefits:

  • Save hours of time using scanned data instead of manually measuring parts
  • Get correct results the first time
  • Eliminate guess work
  • Focus on innovation instead of measuring
  • Reduce part production bottlenecks

Using a 3D Scanner

Out customers use an Artec 3D scanner to digitally convert physical parts and eliminate the need to create a CAD model from scratch. The basic process is:

  1. The part is scanned, uploaded into CAD and then the Geomagic for SOLIDWORKS plugin will automatically identify geometry. Smart Geometry looks for extrusions, sweeps, lofts etc.
  2. Then the user identifies reference geometry for proper object orientation.
  3. The user can then change dimensions, surfaces and bend angles just as they would with any part they designed from scratch.
  4. Since the Artec Scanner Geomagic software is a plugin, the user will have full access to all SOLIDWORKS features.

Learn the 3D Scanning Process

Our tutorial goes in depth and displays a step-by-step process of how easy it is to turn a physical part into an automatically generated, fully featured model in SOLIDWORKS. We cover the scanning process, the Artec software plug-ins, and how SOLIDWORKS takes the scanned images, automatically identifies and generates smart features, and creates a full featured 3D model. 

Adam Ferrer

Adam Ferrer is a graduate from McMaster University with a Bachelor of Technology in Automotive and Vehicle Engineering Technology degree. He is a Technical Marketing Specialist at Javelin.