Cameron Compression Systems needed a way to reverse engineer old engine models to create solid models that could serve as the basis for manufacturing new ones.



Cameron Compression Systems provides reciprocating and centrifugal compression products, systems and services to oil, gas and process industries. The Houston-based company previously built a line of 12- to 16-cylinder two-stroke diesel engines to power its compressors. It discontinued these engines about 10 years ago, but customers have been asking Cameron to bring them back and recently the company agreed.

The engines were designed using paper drafting methods and several of the paper drawings had disappeared. The engines worked well, so there was no need to redesign them from scratch.

“What we needed was a way to reverse engineer the existing engines to create solid models that could serve as the basis for manufacturing,” says Greg Obets, manager of engineering systems. “It would have been very difficult to reverse engineer these parts using a coordinate measuring machine (CMM). Collecting one point at a time with a CMM, we would only have been able to capture a rough outline of the geometry. So, we would have had to redesign most of the details from scratch.”

Cameron decided to investigate laser scanning and looked at several different scanners. The company selected the HandHeld scanner from NVision Inc., because of the 8-inch laser stripe width, which is four times faster than small-stripe technology.

The HandHeld scanner is a portable device that can capture 3D geometry from components of virtually any size. It is attached to a mechanical arm that moves about the object, freeing the user to capture data rapidly and with a high degree of resolution. An optional tripod provides complete portability in the field. Intuitive software allows real-time rendering, full model editing, polygon reduction and data output to all standard 3D packages.

Cameron Compression Systems used NVision’s laser scanners to produce a solid model of an existing large engine in one-tenth the time that would have been required using conventional methods. “It would have taken several years to re-engineer the large diesel engine block pan and heads using a CMM,” claims Obets. “Instead, we scanned these components, converted the resulting point cloud to a solid model, and made the tweaks necessary to prepare them for production in only two months.

“NVision developed a training program specifically for our people, tailored to our unique parts,” adds Obets. “Before the training ended, they had begun scanning the parts. There are many closed internal passages, so we scanned the outside first and then cut away the exterior as needed to expose the interior. It took only two weeks to completely scan all three parts.”

Cameron used the integrated HandHeld software to reassemble the point clouds in a single file for each component. Reference points included in the original scans made it easy to reassemble the different point clouds in their correct relationship. Then the company used XOR software to convert the point clouds to a solid model.

“We imported the solid model into Siemens PLM NX software, where we tweaked a few things such as thinning out or beefing up surfaces,” says Obets. “In only two months, we were ready to turn the solid models and drawings over to manufacturing. The NVision HandHeld scanner yielded enormous time-savings for us on this project.”

For more information on laser scanners, visit www.nvision3d.com or call 972-393-8000.