Reverse Engineering of Impellers: A Case Study without CAD Drawings

Client: A leading submersible pump provider for mining markets from USA providing explosion proof, corrosive resistance pumps.

Need: All their pumps had exclusively SS316 impellers. South American mining market demanded Hi-Chrome (ASTM A532 Class III Type A)

Problem: Their entire supply chain was out of China and current foundry did not support Hi-Chrome. Further the design was old (came through acquisition of family-owned business couple of decades ago) and no one had relevant files or Revisions.

Solution: We requested 2 sets of every type of impellers (31 in total) and other supporting pars (Seal housings, 6 variants). One for 3D scan as well as destructive testing and another as Master. How we provided a solution is explained below.

Introduction: Necessity Breeds Ingenuity

Reverse engineering, the process of deconstructing and recreating a product without its original design data, often presents unique challenges. This case study delves into a scenario where a team successfully reverse-engineered impellers without any CAD drawings, showcasing the intersection of innovation, problem-solving, and advanced technologies.

Case Study Details:

1. Project Initiation: Understanding the Challenge

Vellan Global received an urgent request from a US based customer to replicate a series of impellers for a critical industrial application. However, the client possessed no CAD drawings or design documentation for these impellers. This lack of design data posed a significant obstacle, as traditional reverse engineering methodologies rely heavily on existing CAD models.

2. 3D Scanning: Capturing Geometric Data

The team requested and received 2 sets of items to be reverse engineered. Then it was decided to employ 3D scanning technology as a starting point. The impellers were meticulously scanned using a high-precision 3D scanner, capturing their intricate geometric details and dimensions. The resulting point cloud data served as the foundation for the reverse engineering process.

3. Point Cloud to Mesh: Transforming Data

The raw point cloud data was processed and converted into a 3D mesh model using specialized software. This mesh representation provided a tangible digital outline of the impellers, although it lacked the parametric precision of a traditional CAD model.

4. Surface Reconstruction: Building the Geometry

Using advanced surface reconstruction algorithms, the team converted the mesh models into continuous, smooth surfaces. For few of the critical items (double helix twisted vanes) we cut cross sections in CNC machines and meticulously captured the data points which were not provided in Scan and Software. This step was crucial in converting the scanned data into a format suitable for subsequent engineering analysis and manufacturing.

5. CAD Modeling: Refining the Design

With the surface reconstruction complete, the engineers began crafting parametric CAD models. Using the reconstructed surfaces as references, they employed CAD software to create precise, functional models. The team incorporated engineering considerations, such as material properties and fluid dynamics, into the design to ensure optimal performance.

6. Design Validation: Simulations and Testing

Simulations were conducted to validate the newly designed impellers’ performance. Computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulations assessed factors like flow patterns, pressure distribution, and efficiency. Physical prototypes were also manufactured using the CAD models, and these prototypes were subjected to testing to ensure they met performance benchmarks. In this process the R&D team of the client identified their problems which had been plaguing their current design and changed few design parameters at their end. Final CFD was done by the client and designs were frozen for manufacturing.

7. Manufacturing: Bringing Designs to Life

The final CAD models served as blueprints for manufacturing the impellers. Specialized machining and casting processes were employed to replicate the intricate designs. Quality control measures were implemented at various stages of production to ensure each impeller adhered to the desired specifications.

8. Project Conclusion: Innovation Prevails

Despite the absence of original CAD drawings, the project was a resounding success. The impellers were reverse-engineered, redesigned, and manufactured within the desired timeframe. The case study underscores the power of innovative technologies like 3D scanning, surface reconstruction, and advanced CAD modeling, all of which enabled the team to overcome a daunting challenge and deliver results of exceptional quality.

Conclusion: Unlocking Possibilities with Reverse Engineering and Customer Delight

The case study of reverse engineering impellers without any CAD drawings highlights the ingenuity and adaptability inherent in our engineering practices. It demonstrates that, even in situations where traditional methods seem inadequate, cutting-edge technologies can bridge the gap and lead to successful outcomes. As industries continue to evolve, this case study serves as a testament to the limitless possibilities that emerge when expertise, innovation, and determination converge.