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Lecture on reverse engineering (3D scan and CAD) 3D Congress 2018 Lecture on Reverse Engineering (3D Scanning and CAD) 06:35
Swann Rack from Holocreators gave a presentation on reverse engineering at the 3D Congress 2018. Reverse engineering allows an object to be reproduced using 3D scanning and subsequent conversion into a CAD format. In his presentation, Swann Rack talked about the different 3D scanning techniques and how the reverse engineering process works.
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The Rapid.Tech and FabCon 3.D Trade Fair in Erfurt

In 2018, the 15th international trade fair and conference “Rapid.Tech” and “FabCon 3.D” took place.
In Erfurt, 5000 visitors and exhibitors from the 3D printing scene came together. Swann Rack explained, to a professional audience, the different steps needed to reverse engineer an object.

Swann Rack with presentation slides on stage at Fabcon Rapid Tech
Swann Rack / Holocreators Gears as an example project for the presentation on reverse engineering

When 3D scanning an object, you do not immediately get a 3D model that can be 3D-printed, or CNC milled. Instead, you get a point cloud that must be converted to use it inside a CAD software. This conversion process is called “reverse engineering”.

Side-view of Swann Rack's presentation about reverse engineering at Fabcon Rapid Tech
Rapid.Tech_3D / Youtube Swann Rack from Holocreators gave a presentation on Reverse Engineering at the 3D Congress 2018

Step 1: The Creation of the 3D Scan

There are numerous 3D scanning techniques. One is photogrammetry, which is ideal for objects larger than 200 cm. Photogrammetry is not as accurate, but very inexpensive, especially suitable for 3D-scanning larger objects with color. A second 3D scanning technique is structured-light scanning. It >is recommended for parts sized between 5cm and 300cm and achieves very high accuracy to within +/- 0.05 mm. The third technique is CT (computed tomography) 3D scanning. If you want to 3D scan tiny objects with extremely high resolution and precision, then the 3D CT is the best choice.

Swann Rack on stage at Fabcon Rapid Tech speaking about reverse engineering
Swann Rack / Holocreators Audience at Swann Rack’s presentation at the 3D Congress 2018

Step 2: Reverse Engineering

After 3D-scanning the object, the 3D data needs to be converted into a CAD format—for example, the conversion of an STL file into a STEP file. Reverse engineering can be either an automatic or a manual process. It depends on the application and the quality of the 3D scan. The most complex process is reverse engineering with parametric modeling and a history tree. With this process, the 3D-scan data is manually converted into a CAD format. Manual reconstructions offer maximum functionality because every parameter of the CAD model can later be edited by the customer.

Visitor guide and id for Fabcon Rapid Tech 2018
Swann Rack / Holocreators Ticket for the Rapid.Tech and FabCon 3.D Exhibition 2018

Step 3: Manufacturing—3D printing or CNC milling

The final step is manufacturing. Depending on the shape and desired properties of the object, one must choose between, for example, additive manufacturing (3D printing) or CNC milling. The reverse engineering process is complete once the client receives a perfect copy of the original object.


We were delighted to have been given the opportunity to speak about the topics of our daily business at the 3D Congress. The feedback was very positive, and Swann Rack answered a few questions from the audience after his presentation.

May we assist you with your Reverse Engineering project?

Holocreators offers professional 3D-scanning and reverse engineering services. We 3D-scan your objects with different 3D scanning techniques and convert the data into a CAD format. We would love to help you with your project. Please call us at +49 40 481133 or send an email

Swann has been enthusiastic about everything 3D for many years. His roots lie in analog holography, which brought him to digital 3D-modeling in 2011.

The rapid progress of various 3D-scanning techniques fascinated himso much thathe founded Holocreators together with his brother Miro Rack in 2015.

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