An engineer with Auto Research Center digitizes points on an exhaust header using a portable CMM from Faro Corp.


An exhaust header has been painstakingly built for one bank on a V8 engine. Black lines show where to take points for building a model in CAD software.


HighRES software shows points in Pro/E collected from the header and partially constructed surfaces. A complete model makes it easier to test designs as well as build models for the opposite bank of cylinders.

The Auto Research Center (ARC-M), a wind-tunnel testing facility in Mooresville, N.C., has slashed the time needed to reverse engineer models by using HighRES CAD/CAM Reverse Engineering software. The program, from HighRES Inc., La Jolla, Calif. (, also reduced the number of errors that crop up in file translations. The Center captures points on parts using a portable CMM from Faro Corp., Lake Mary, Fla., ( In the past, the Research Center's engineers had difficulty digitizing and creating complex surface geometry.

HighRES helps by putting CMM functions into Pro/E that let users modify points and surfaces as easily as if they were created in the CAD program. The reverse-engineering software also works faster than previous packages. A set of exhaust headers, for instance, took only 3 hr to reverse engineer. Without the software, engineers estimate it could have taken three days.

The reverse-engineering software also identifies centerlines on near half-scale models for wind-tunnel tests. It's important in these tests that the body shell is properly positioned on a center spine. Otherwise, the tests produce useless data or worse, lead designers in the wrong direction.

“Race-team engineers also want to know the exact location of critical suspension components for use in kinematics and simulation programs,” says Tom Sweetland, lead design engineer at ARC. “The software and portable CMM gives us precise X, Y, and Z coordinates for those critical points.”