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TRANSPORT-Transport 2025

3D scanning and reverse engineering algorithms in the railway sector

Alternative title: 3D skanning og algoritmer for dekonstruksjon av deler i jernbanesektoren

Awarded: NOK 7.5 mill.

Project Number:


Application Type:

Project Period:

2022 - 2025

Funding received from:



The project is based on developing a method and equipment for 3d scanning a part, and converting the result into a useable 3d computer model. The conversion will have to be done by creating a program that recognizes shapes. The need for this kind of technology is increasing in the railway business, as the Norwegian train fleet is getting older, and the train manufacturers are stopping their spare part production lines. The technology created in this project will enable a train maintenance supplier to scan a part that is obsolete and create a 3d model that is specific enough to reproduce the part either by additive manufacturing or conventional manufacturing methods, thus making them able to repair the train.

The transport sector, including rail, depends on rapid access to spare parts so that transport services can be delivered with the required regularity. Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) guarantee supply of spare parts only for a limited number of years and have long lead times. Lack of competition implies a high cost for spare parts even when they are accessible. Technical information, including detailed parts documentation, is often withhold. Ageing fleets of trains where parts obsolescence is commonplace often make it difficult to keep vehicles in service. The project goal is to establish a reverse engineering workflow from physical parts to well behaved CAD models facilitating rapid manufacturing of replacement parts as well as a library of digital replica and tools for training personnel and efficient maintenance of components. Two prototype products are envisioned: A precise, automized and user-friendly photogrammetry scanner, and a tool to enhance point cloud data to CAD models compatible to the ISO 10303 format STEP and fit for subsequent use. The latter will be mainly automatic but require user input for quality control. Algorithms for reverse engineering have a long history, but the tools used for industrial applications are far from automatic. Selecting and extending new and existing algorithms and workflows to rise the user friendliness and degree of automation involve challenging research. To integrate the new tools in the maintenance work, the right parts to be reverse engineered must be selected. The results will be consolidated in a roadmap starting from part selection to reverse engineering of parts.

Funding scheme:

TRANSPORT-Transport 2025