Video Guide to Reverse Engineering

reverse engineering

This video is all about reverse engineering to save product development costs and improve the overall product  design. Watch the video or read the transcript below!

Reverse Engineering Video Transcript

So let’s get straight into it. What is reverse engineering?

Reverse engineering is the act of dismantling an object to see how it works. This is primarily done to analyse and gain knowledge about the way something works and often it’s used to duplicate or improve an object. Many things can be reverse engineered including software, products, physical machines and even military technology. 

In fact, recently the US government raced against China to recover a F35 stealth jet from the bottom of the south China sea. It did this precisely to prevent another nation reverse engineering the technology. This gives you a clue to how effective reverse engineering can be. 

Often used in the research stages of a project by designers wanting to make add on or complimentary projects for an existing product where they can’t get hold of the original design files.

This is because those original files may have been lost, may never have been available if the product was originally developed by a Chinese manufacturer who then hasn’t released the source files and has then subsequently gone out of business. 

Reverse engineering can obviously be used to copy other peoples products but ethically design companies like D2M Innovation that I founded are never going to do that. The only time we would use reverse engineering is where the client already owns the design and intellectual property and in those cases there’s no issue of using reverse engineering and often it can reduce overall costs and time to develop a better product. 

Reverse engineering is specific to object that is being performed. No matter the object type, there are 3 general steps that are common to reverse engineering efforts. These include:

• Information extraction
• Modelling
• Review

Lets look at these in a bit more detail. 

Information Extraction
Study the object that is being reverse engineered and remove and extract the information about it’s design and examine that to determine exactly how all the components of a product fit together. In product reverse engineering specifically, dimensions, tolerance fits and assembly techniques are often the main areas you want to study. Once you have all that collected information, it’s then used to create a conceptual model. 

Often using 3D computer aided design software and the purpose of this step is to take all the information that was specific to the original and put it into a new general model that can be used to guide the design of new objects or systems. 

Is the final step and this often revolves around testing various different scenarios maybe in the computer aided design environment or by 3D printing you can test, fit and purpose in the real world environment and then you can manipulate these prototypes to confirm the design intent and reengineer the original product to now be better. It is often used for product improvement. This is the key driver in most cases. Firms involved in product design and manufacturer the need for constant development and evolution is simply part of operating in any competitive market.

 The main goals of reverse engineering the context of product improvement are:
• Reducing manufacturing cost
• Refining features for improved usability
• Improving product performance and durability
• Replacing a product with a new updated version.

By simplifying a product its cost can potentially and significantly be reduced whilst also improving its performance. 

How can you use reverse engineering to save yourself thousands of pounds? Well you can do that by ensuring all the lessons learnt in developing your previous product are then captured before you then develop a new product. Then if you’ve got issues with your previous products like customers have had parts broken over time, things that they have complained about in reviews, then you can reverse engineer the real product but then improve those areas which will then give you a much better product overall. That will be significantly cheaper than starting from scratch.


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Bonus 40min extended case-study video!