How Reverse Engineering Your Products Could Revolutionise Your Manufacturing Process

Ever looked at something and wondered how it works? 

To be honest, if you work in the manufacturing industry, that’s probably all you do all day! It’s this fascination about how stuff works that drives innovation, after all. 

This is also why reverse engineering is so important. In manufacturing, it’s capable of helping brands not only unpick existing products, but also discover how to make even better solutions for the future. 

How do you think Apple made the original iPhone? They started by tearing down what was already on the market and figuring out how they could do better. 

How do you think they made the iPhone 12 even better than the 11? They tore down previous versions to see where they went wrong. 

Consider this your simple guide to reverse engineering. 


What is reverse engineering? 

Reverse engineering is a technique that helps manufacturing design teams work out how products are made. It also provides a unique, first-hand insight into how they operate. 

The process is also used to discover how old components (sometimes referred to as ‘legacy components’) work. Reverse engineering is therefore particularly useful if you don’t have access to the original technical drawings or material information for a particular product. 

To make the most of reverse engineering, you’ll need skills within the team that are multidisciplinary and experienced in deconstructing products. 


Why reverse engineer your own products? 

Businesses use reverse engineering in manufacturing for a number of reasons. They may wish to discover how a competitor’s product is made and operates. But, often, it’s their own products that are reverse engineered. 

This might sound odd. After all, why deconstruct something you know exactly how to put together in the first place? 

Reverse engineering is about far more than simply pulling a product apart. It helps manufacturers discover any inherent flaws that exist in their products and determine how production processes can be improved. 

It’s easy to forget what goes into a product, which is why revisiting the way it was made is such a useful endeavour. Reverse engineering helps protect patents, enhance product effectiveness, and reveal where the next improvements should be made. 


How is reverse engineering undertaken? 

As you might expect, reverse engineering isn’t simply about cracking open a product or smashing it to bits with a hammer. It’s a bit more technical than that. 

This is why it requires so much expertise and experience. For instance, determining how metal components and products have been manufactured will require an experienced metallurgist. 

The same goes for getting to the bottom of the production techniques used to create a specific part. What heat treatment was used? What chemicals were required? 

When reverse engineering, the following analytical techniques are usually called upon: 

  • dimensional measuring; 
  • 3D metrology; 
  • X-ray tomography; 
  • microscopy; 
  • chemical analysis; 
  • impact testing; and 
  • tensile and hardness testing. 

The techniques above can be used across a huge range of industries when it comes to reverse engineering. 

This brilliant method of looking to the past to find opportunities for the future is something no manufacturer should overlook. It will require some serious investment, sure, but that investment will pay back handsomely as you create better, more capable products thanks to understanding how the predecessors really worked. 

If we’ve sparked any questions today, don’t forget you can contact the Flowdrill team directly - we’d love to hear from you. 

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