Reverse Engineering Improves Crash Simulations

Tractor Trailer Assembly


The manufacturer of a tractor-trailer came to Dimensional Engineering for a 3D digital model of the complete trailer. They needed the model to run crash simulations and test the effectiveness of new safety features they had built into the trailer.


Using the latest hardware and software, plus our specialized knowledge and experience, Dimensional Engineering can capture full digital data from a physical object regardless of its size or complexity. We were, in fact, the original team that undertook the reverse engineering of a complete tractor-trailer – something that had never been done before.

Another unique aspect of the tractor-trailer project: We combined two technologies – a laser tracker and a laser scanning arm – to carry out the reverse engineering challenge. It was essential to collect data on every minute detail of the trailer, and applying the two technologies in tandem made it possible.

We started by defining the coordinate system to be used. Targets were strategically placed on the trailer and peripheral objects such as the building that housed it. We used the laser tracker to collect the XYZ position of each target, along with macro details of the trailer. We then used the portable laser scanner to probe into the trailer’s alignment at any given location along its 53-foot length and 18-foot height (jacked). Once the portable scanner was in place, we could collect highly accurate data on micro details of the trailer, both inside and out, such as suspension, extrusions, and more.

Next we post-processed the data into a fully parameterized solid model with each entity having its own specific material property. The client could then work with the data immediately after importing the CAD model into their dynamic simulation software.

Tractor Trailer Engineering


The solid model captured by Dimensional Engineering enabled the manufacturer to run crash simulations and understand how effectively the trailer’s new safety features would work in real-life crash situations.