A framework of tolerance specification for freeform point clouds and capability analysis for reverse engineering processes

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The combination of reverse engineering (RE) with additive manufacturing (AM) is widely used for solid freeform fabrication and overcomes limitations with the current capabilities of designers and CAD packages that are restricted to classical model shapes. The shape flexibility offered by RE typically leads to the generated CAD models being represented in point cloud formats or stereolithography files. One resulting challenge is the difficulty with tolerance specification for the RE-generated models, especially for freeform shapes. Geometric metrology for the AM-produced parts to determine their geometric conformation can also be involved. Furthermore, conventional process analyses cannot be performed directly after RE because of the complex geometric data structure. We propose to address all these issues with a new tolerance specification and process analysis framework based on volumetric data analysis. The tolerance zone constructed under our framework, and the corresponding geometric measurements, are consistent with the profile tolerance in geometric dimensioning and tolerancing standards. Reverse engineering's process capability is assessed under our methodology via a parametric bootstrap procedure in the size-and-shape space. The performance and utility of the proposed framework are validated via a process capability study on RE-generated CAD models of multiple, additively manufactured freeform objects.



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International Journal of Production Research