Motorola Accelerates Product Development
with 3D Scanning

ATOS 3D scanner from Capture 3D

Benjamin Franklin famously said, “Time is money.” Motorola’s Rapid Prototyping Services Group couldn’t agree more; their website proudly proclaims, “Our most important product is time.”

That’s because Motorola offers rapid prototyping capabilities that help their customers improve products quickly in order to remain competitive in the ever-changing communications market. Motorola accelerates product development efforts—from one-of-a kind models, to complex HDI PC boards, to prototype injection mold tooling.


  • Realign Tooling Fixture screw placements with modified chassis design
  • Capture 3D scan model of chassis; current 2D documentation was inaccurate and no 3D CAD model was available
  • Reduce time needed to produce accurate 3D CAD and redesigned tooling fixture


  • Scanned the chassis using 3D optical scanner
  • Utilized Geomagic Design X software to reverse engineer a 3D CAD model of the tooling fixture’s top-plate part.
  • Using 3D scan data of the chassis, created correct hole pattern and solved alignment issue between chassis and tooling fixture
  • Reduced time to CAD by 4-6 days, saving approximately $10,000

Challenge: Misaligned components
An example of just how fast Motorola can jumpstart product development is seen in a recent case study of an internal customer who needed to modify tooling for an Enterprise-Mid Tier (E-MT) chassis that had no current documentation or 3D CAD models. According to Marian Petrescu, senior staff mechanical engineer at Motorola, “If the customer matched up the screw locations according to the print, the holes on the fixture template were misaligned on the chassis. To solve the problem, we needed to capture legacy E-MT chassis data and reverse engineer the chassis assembly or the screw fixture.”

From the 3D scan and mesh data, Petrescu then implemented Geomagic Design X software to convert the 3D scans into parametric CAD models. Optical 3D scanners typically cannot pick up all data points and render a complete scan due to differences of surface texture, color, and obstructed lines of sight. The Design X methodology offers a unique approach that accelerates the transition from raw scan data to a complete, feature-based, 3D solid model that includes the design intent and parametric history tree. Petrescu was able to easily and quickly create an accurate top-plate solid model in Design X, capturing the right pattern of the holes from the incomplete 3D chassis point cloud data he obtained in the scanning process.

Using traditional measuring techniques, this reverse engineering and redesign process would typically take 8-10 days for each assembly, chassis or screw fixture. With 3D scanning and software, Motorola accomplished the task for the screw fixture in 4 days, saving the customer approximately $10,000.00

Solution: 3D scanner and 3D software
To redesign the 3D CAD model of the screw fixture, Motorola needed an accurate pattern of the holes from the actual E-MT chassis. Motorola used a high resolution optical scanner—the ATOS 3D from Capture 3D ( The scanner quickly captured the geometry and, more importantly, the pattern of the holes on the chassis, using standoff parts.

Because the Design X software combines 3D CAD modeling capabilities with reverse engineering and scanned data handling capabilities, Motorola was able to rapidly move from unprocessed 3D scans to complete solid models within one modeling system. Without this feature, users would constantly need to switch back and forth between two software systems and two existing assemblies, wasting valuable time. Deviation analysis, another key feature of the Design X software, also saved Motorola time in the redesign, allowing a quick deviations measurement between the raw chassis scan data and the reverse engineered CAD top-plate model. Petrescu set tolerances as needed, stepping the analysis up or down to determine how close he was to the desired accuracy of the 3D top-plate model versus the physical chassis part.

Results: Saving time and money
The redesign timetable using 3D scanning and reverse engineering software compared with traditional methods follows:

  • Insertion of standard and machined standoff parts, 3D scanning and getting mesh data: completed in 1 day.
    This step would typically take 3-4 days, if it were outsourced for scanning. It would take approximately 10-12 days, if traditional measurement methods were used.
  • Reverse engineering and re-design of the fixture template using Geomagic Design X: completed in 1 day.
    Comparatively, it would take approximately 3-4 days using an optical coordinate measuring machine (CMM) or another traditional
    method, such as sketching and re-design of the fixture.
  • The last step in the process included fabrication of the fixture and insertion of standoff parts into the E-MT chassis holes. (The standoff
    parts ensured more accurate scan data of the hole pattern locations.)
    Completed in 2 days. (This step was a neutral process, necessary when using either 3D scanning/reverse engineering software or the
    traditional redesign approach).


The 3D scanner and Geomagic Design X software helped Motorola quickly modify the screw fixture to correctly align the modified chassis assembly holes. Instead of taking 8-10 days to complete the redesign, Motorola was able to accomplish the task in 4 days, saving $10,000.


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