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3D scanning and reverse engineering an 8.5 MW electric motor



Birr Machines AG, based in Kleindöttingen, Switzerland, is a service provider for electrical equipment from 50 kW to 30 MW. In addition to equipment development, the company offers servicing for the machines around the globe that were manufactured 55 years ago by ABB (formerly BBC).

Last year, Birr Machines AG was commissioned with the replication of an 8.5 MW built-in nuclear transformer. The challenge resided in rebuilding the steel frame properly despite the lack of documentation.

In order to achieve this efficiently and with the right levels of quality, the measurement service provider, SCAN IT 3D GmbH was commissioned to record the actual situation and process it as a 3D model with defined dimensions.


Scan motor Metra
The MetraSCAN 3D from Creaform was used for the 3D scan. The scanner is particularly suitable for capturing 3D measurements of large mechanical objects, such as electric motors. The MetraSCAN 3D scans quickly, with a high degree of accuracy and resolution.

In this particular use case, an electric motor, with a dimension of approximately 2x2x2.5 metres, was scanned. Approximately 35 square metres were captured with the MetraScan 3D. Individual measurements, in places that were not accessible to the scanner, were recorded with the HandyPROBE optical PCMM and stored together with the scan data. Even the measurements of winding head covers made of fiberglass could be taken without being disassembled.

Further processing

Intersection in the design scan and model

Intersection in the design scan and model

SolidWorks is used by Birr Machines AG’s client for further processing. This allows the 3D scan data and CAD model to be overlaid and offers little room for misinterpretation. The data from the reverse engineering process can be transferred with a Feature Tree and all dimensions from Geomagic Design X to SolidWorks, thereby simplifying the entire workflow even more.

Reverse engineering

Deviations from 3D scans to 3D models

Deviations from 3D scans to 3D models

Geomagic Design X software was used for the reverse engineering of the steel structure. The data were transferred to Birr Machines AG as native SolidWorks models. The covers were also created in Design X and could be used directly for production.


CAD Construction
For this project, SCAN IT 3D GmbH created a design by reverse engineering on behalf of the client that was very closely based on the scan data. This built the solid foundation for further processing in the client’s CAD system.

Results: One day scanning and two days reverse engineering

One day was needed to create the 3D scans with the MetraSCAN 3D The reverse engineering of the housing and covers was carried out after two days. In addition, there was the coordination with the client and minimal revisions. A project period of 3-5 days is considered very realistic for such a project.

Client benefits

  • No measurements had to be taken by hand
  • No additional measuring tools had to be purchased
  • All dimensions were quickly available to scale in the CAD software
  • By means of false colour comparisons, the scanned model could always be compared with the CAD data

SCAN IT 3D GmbH has already successfully completed numerous projects with the Creaform’s 3D scanners and the team’s reverse engineering expertise.

This report was made available to Creaform for publication by SCAN IT 3D GmbH. View the original report


About SCAN IT 3D GmbH

SCANIT 3D GmbH based in Schliengen, Germany, offers metrology, reverse engineering and process optimisation services.

Article written by Creaform

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