Laser scanning enables reverse-engineering for AM

Monteviale, Italy-based company, Spring, has purchased a laser scanning head from Nikon Metrology to reverse engineer parts and improve the additive manufacturing bureau’s quality control. Nikon provided both the laser scanning head and a 7-axis CNC articulated measuring arm.

Roberto Toniello, the company’s co-founder and head of the Engineering Department, said: 'The Nikon equipment allows us to meet even more efficiently the needs and demands of our customers, so we can offer a more integrated, comprehensive, accurate service in shorter lead-times and ensure maximum reliability of results.'

A product needs to be reverse-engineered if the CAD model does not exist or the original part has been modified. Fabio Gualdo, Spring’s co-founder, commented: ‘In series additive manufacturing, it is often necessary to optimise the design of a component. A piece originally intended to be made by chip removal frequently has to be completely remodelled, especially if it is in a new material, to provide it with the required mechanical characteristics or to reduce weight.

To do this, Spring created a raw point cloud data. The point cloud data is reverse-engineered into accurate surface, polygon and native CAD models. STL files are generated for driving six Stratasys Fortus FDM (fused deposition modelling) additive manufacturing machines on site.

Once parts have been built, they are inspected using the scanning equipment to determine their accuracy, using either the laser head or an interchangeable touch probe, or both in a mixed measuring routine. Software from Nikon Metrology provides the measurement and analysis environment, with intuitive tools for both laser and tactile scanning applications. The scanner is used for two-thirds of the time as a metrology tool.

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