Scanning the coupler
Reverse engineering technology has been around quite a while. Some of the instruments used to capture geometric data from an object are contact probes, non-contact probes(aka laser scanners) and photogrammetry(using a photo to plot reference points). These methods are somewhat of a painstaking process to capture data and turn it into a machineable item, especially large objects which need to be broken up into smaller chunks.
The process we are currently using is a laser scanning camera which can capture the object and convert it into a point cloud. With several scans from different angles, we can then build a computer model that can be modified in many different ways. Once we have a working computer model, we can either send it to the Rapid Prototyping machine, 5 Axis Router, or 4 Axis Mill, depending on size and material requirements from the customer.
Scanning can be done either here at our shop or in the field; mainly depends on size. Although as you can see by the photos (left) an object as large as a Mack truck can be handled here at our facility. On this truck we scanned in the 5th wheel coupler and reproduced it in foam to create tooling to fabricate a mold. Then that mold is used to build a fiberglass replica to be used on a full size Mack, presently in construction.
Contact us for more information.