Reverse Engineering workflow with a 3D Scanner, SOLIDWORKS and a 3D Printer

Article by TriMech Solutions, LLC updated October 19, 2022


When you have an Artec 3D scannerSOLIDWORKS CAD software and a Stratasys 3D printer added to your operation, it opens up new possibilities. Let’s look a reverse engineering workflow to make perfect-fitting 3D-printed fixtures.

In this post learn how we fixed a squeaky ceiling fan with 3D scanning, 3D CAD and 3D printing.

  1. First, 3D scan a can of WD-40 for reference
  2. Import the scanned geometry into SOLIDWORKS to help design a bracket to mount the can
  3. Finally 3D print the bracket so the spray can be placed on the end of a broomstick to fix the problem.

3D Scanning

3D scanning the WD-40 can with Artec Studio was easy. The scanner can pick up full-color data, which helps with the very plain cylindrical surface for registration.

Using Geomagic for SOLIDWORKS for reverse engineering, the body of the can was easy to make with simple revolves of cross sections of the mesh, but the head was auto-surfaced. It was easier that way.

3D Scan of WD-40 Can

3D Scan of WD-40 Can


Then it took approximately 15 or 20 minutes to draw up a simple bracket in SOLIDWORKS that could be used to put this can on the end of a broomstick. Most of the magic is in the Boolean operations of features combined to draw chunks of material through the can and subtract one body from the other. Creating these perfect nesting fits to what is otherwise tricky geometry.

Bracket design in SOLIDWORKS

Bracket design in SOLIDWORKS

3D Printing

The bracket was 3D printed overnight on a Stratasys FDM machine. The print was lightweight because of the sparse fill that I used so that it didn’t use very much material. And the next day I was able to fix the problem with my ceiling fan.

3D Printed Bracket

3D Printed Bracket

Companies use this technique for jigs and fixtures, end-of-arm and robotic grippers, and all sorts of other manufacturing aids and tooling applications. So much so that recently Artec Studio added new features to be able to create basic CAD primitives like the cylinder and perform basic Boolean operations like add, combine, and subtract.

TriMech Solutions, LLC

TriMech provides thousands of engineering teams with 3D design and rapid prototyping solutions that work hand-in-hand, from sketch to manufacturing. Javelin became a subsidiary of TriMech Solutions LLC in 2021.