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Reverse Engineering

With New Reverse-Engineering Capabilities, VGSTUDIO MAX Makes CAD Models from CT Scans

14 Jul, 2020 Sponsored By: Volume Graphics

New scan-to-CAD capabilities and enhanced digital volume correlation in version 3.4 of Volume Graphics’ industrial CT software support simulation validation and creation of part digital twins.


Digital analysis and physical testing are becoming increasingly integrated in the pursuit of optimized product design and development across a wide swath of industries. Volume Graphics, which develops software for the analysis and visualization of industrial 3D computed tomography (CT) data, has added and augmented functionalities in version 3.4 of its VGSTUDIO MAX software that can help designers and manufacturers capture and interrogate product data to improve final quality.

Reverse Engineering within a Single Software Suite

When there’s no 3D CAD model of an object available, VGSTUDIO MAX 3.4’s Reverse Engineering Module provides a comprehensive suite of capabilities in a highly automated package. The Module can generate surfaces from a CT scan, or any voxel model converted from a closed mesh/point cloud scan, using a fast, accurate auto-surface function. This new functionality allows manually generated design models to be available digitally — without the need for a CAD designer or reverse-engineering specialist.


The new Reverse Engineering Module in VGSTUDIO MAX 3.4 converts CT scans into CAD models that can be used in any CAD system without the need for a CAD designer or reverse-engineering specialist, according to Volume Graphics.

An important benefit is the ability to generate and archive 3D CAD models of legacy parts, as well as update those models in which the actual part or tool deviates from the master CAD model. This automates the creation of digital twins of individual parts, and allows for validation of the model-to-part relationship. The recreated or newly validated CAD model can be exported as a STEP file to any CAD system. The software also enables CAM systems to mill on CAD instead of meshes.

Comparing Components or Samples over Time

Measuring strain and quantifying and visualizing defects in material samples due to external loads are key tasks for materials scientists. The new Digital Volume Correlation (DVC) Module in VGSTUDIO MAX 3.4 helps users to quantify displacements and strains simply and intuitively between multiple states over time. It enables a precise insight into the material at hand, e.g., to detect cracks and to measure the local strain.

This is particularly useful for gaining a deeper understanding of foams, fiber composite materials, or additively manufactured (3D-printed) porous samples or components. Voxel-based, three-dimensional volumes are automatically correlated by the software, allowing for before-and-after comparisons of in-situ experiments. Results are visualized in detail, helping users pinpoint exactly where defects or damage have occurred.

The user can quantify and visualize problems that might be missed by the naked eye, such as cracks and pores, by comparing datasets at different states over time with the initial undamaged data. Results are visualized via color overlay, vector fields, or strain lines. The equivalent strain, or single components of the strain tensor, can be shown as a color overlay and mapped directly on a volume mesh to validate the results of finite-element analysis (FEA) simulations.


Displacement between two datasets acquired during an in-situ test on a fiber-reinforced polymer, as visualized in VGSTUDIO MAX 3.4 software. Data provided by the Institute of Applied Materials at Karlsruhe Institute for Technology (KIT) in Germany.


VGSTUDIO MAX 3.4 creates visualizations that show a spatial impression of the displacement field.

VGSTUDIO MAX also allows for mapping microstructure information such as fiber orientation, fiber-volume content, or matrix porosity on the same mesh that is used for the FEA. This allows the user to consider all significant microstructure information within a mechanical model, and validate it by comparing FEA and DVC results.

DVC is not only helpful in the laboratory, it is also a powerful tool to detect internal damage for maintenance of composite materials. For example, a helicopter blade can be analyzed by comparing scans acquired after manufacturing with scans of the same part after several years of use.


Volume Graphics software provides a comprehensive visual representation of a part’s geometrical deviations. Depending on the toleranced element, certain methods for visualizing the actual deviations can be activated; e.g., a colored and scaled deviation vector for position tolerances (above), while simultaneously showing entire patterns of position tolerances.

Other Enhancements to Version 3.4

In addition to the new reverse engineering and volume comparison enhancements, VGSTUDIO MAX 3.4 also includes:

  • New visualization options for deviations of geometric tolerances to answer questions such as: Where exactly are the highest deviations located? How are the deviations distributed on a surface? Which areas of the surface were actually evaluated?
  • Subvoxel-accurate defect detection with VGEasyPore to differentiate between gas pores and shrinkage cavities.
  • Stress tensor export in a CSV file of stress fields calculated using the VGSTUDIO MAX Structural Mechanics Simulation Module, e.g., for fatigue analysis.
  • New, more intuitive Tool Dock that reduces mouse travel needed to navigate.
  • Support of 4K displays for a crisper, sharper, and scalable graphical user interface.

About the Author: Cadalyst Staff

Cadalyst Staff


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