Reverse engineering is the process of discovering the technological principles of a device, object, or system through analysis of its structure, function, and operation.
As computer-aided design (CAD) has become more popular, reverse engineering has become a viable method to create a 3D virtual model of an existing physical part for use in 3D CAD. The reverse engineering process involves measuring an object and then reconstructing it as a 3D model.
Reverse engineering is also used by businesses to bring existing physical geometry into digital product development environments. It is used to analyse how a product works, what it does, what components it consists of, estimate costs, and identification of potential patent infringement, etc.
Value engineering is a related activity also used by businesses. It involves deconstructing and analysing products, but the objective is to find opportunities for cost cutting.