Where is reverse engineering used?

At present, reverse engineering is developing as intensively as classical engineering. No wonder, as reverse engineering brings enormous benefits to companies, mainly in terms of saving time and money, as well as due to product optimization. The following article provides examples of how the technique of reverse engineering can be used in various ways.

What is reverse engineering and what is it used for?

Reverse engineering is a process of examining an object to learn its design and to see how it works. The data obtained as a result of the above examination are most often used to create an analogue (substitute), conduct a benchmarking analysis, or adjust own objects in terms of compatibility with the object examined. It is also a way to search for innovative technology solutions. Reverse engineering is used by various industries, such as healthcare (for example, to design implants adapted to the patient’s anatomy) or archeology (to reconstruct findings). Armies, often with involvement of intelligence agents, resort to reverse engineering to copy technology used by other countries. For example, the same took place during the Cold War, which was accompanied by an arms race. It is also worth paying attention to software re-engineering, for which reverse engineering is an initial stage. Re-engineering is used by IT specialists who analyze codes to understand how a software was created and to make an improved version based thereon. Reverse engineering is also an important area of cybersecurity knowledge. Its use makes it possible to analyze malware.

How Tupolev copied Boeing

Although today reverse engineering uses modern technologies, it is not an entirely new phenomenon. There are many historical examples of reverse engineering, such as construction of the Soviet Tu-4 aircraft. The aircraft design process was started in the mid-1940s, when three American Boeing B-29 bombers involved in air raids on Japan had to make an emergency landing in Siberia. The B-29s were interned and transported to the Andrei Tupolev Design Bureau for examination. One of the B-29s was dismantled and accurately copied using reverse engineering. Several hundred Tu-4 bombers were built. However, the Tu-4 was not a perfect copy, and therefore crews had to deal with numerous problems. Nevertheless, the Tu-4 contributed to a breakthrough in the construction of strategic bombers in the USSR.

Modern reverse engineering, i.e., use of 3D scanning

Today, it is difficult to imagine professional product research without a 3D scanner. In general, a 3D scanner is a device that analyzes a real-world object and collects data about its shape, which makes it possible to reproduce the object through a set of points with specific coordinates in a 3D system. Due to the technological change, high-precision scanners have been developed, able to make measurements with an accuracy of 5 micrometers. The collected data is used to create a 3D digital model, surfaces, and CAD simulation. A CAD model can be modified by introduction of various types of improvements or changes to adapt the object to other components.

Available data suggest that interest in reverse engineering is growing. So, it can be assumed there will be new areas for the use of reverse engineering.

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