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The Future of Reverse Engineering

The Future of Reverse Engineering


As part of TRSE’s continuing efforts to use innovation within their engineering toolbox, a recent opportunity to support a customer utilising 3D scanning and Reverse engineering technology with our partner at Scan.Model.Make (SMM). This was a great example of how modern technology and collaboration can be used to resolve the engineering issues of rail vehicle components.


Our client, CWE needed a CAD model of a draw gear casting (Figure 1), but what do you do when the original drawings are not available, and the only information to hand was a repair document that gave a few dimensions? We decided to collaborate with a 3D scanning company (Scan.Model.Make) to try and find the solution.


As the customer did have some actual castings available, it was possible for SMM to use a handheld 3D scanner (Figure 2) to scan them at the customer’s site. The files were then processed in order to establish the normal dimensions of the casting.

Figure 1: Original Draw Gear Casting


Figure 2: Interrogating the CAD model post scanning

TRSE then held a design review meeting with CWE and SMM to discuss the scans as there were anomalies between the available castings which threw up questions of whether these were by design, from wear and tear or corrosion, or maybe even damage (Figure 3)


Once the review meeting had concluded, the outcomes were incorporated into the 3D model and from this, a manufacturing drawing was produced which enabled the full casting to be produced as near as possible to the original version.

As part of the design review process, we conceptualised the scanned model by having a scaled down part 3D printed (Figure 4), this enabled us to talk around a physical component to establish what “questionable” features are genuine and what are incorrect based on the actual application of the component.

Figure 3: Interrogating scanned surfaces

Figure 4: 3D Print of the Draft Gear


TRSE then conducted the final drawing validation exercise (Figure 5) to ensure that the component met the project brief, and assessed that the established dimensions and tolerances meet the real-world component application to ensure that “fit, form and function” can be achieved.

Figure 5: Final Drawing and Model


CWE were then able to place this component into there product portfolio and continue to push forward in the rail industry as a market leader in rolling stock component overhaul and manufacturing proving that no job is impossible providing you have the right team to support.


This three-tier collaboration enables us to offer a complete reverse engineering package from initial idea through to a complete fully manufactured part.


Managing Director for Scan.Model.Make, Derrick Baker said “The opportunity to work with TRSE in support of CWE which resulted in an effective process to accurately reverse engineer all aspects of a single component that would otherwise be impossible to source demonstrated the benefits of 3D scanning in a real world example. Having worked with the team at T&RS Engineering in the past it was very satisfying seeing the results of our collaboration and we are looking forward to working together on future projects.”


Business Development Manager for TRSE, Simon Stringfellow said “We were really pleased to be asked to collaborate on this project, and the power of 3D scanning to manufacture replacement parts is something we are looking to expand as we collaborate with Scan.Model.Make on future reverse engineering projects”


Engineering Manager for CWE, Ash Darvill said “Being able to quickly adapt and produce components with little to no information to hand really puts us in a competitive position and solidifies us as a “one stop shop” for the rail industry. We look forward to continuing this partnership on the next reverse engineering project”