Reverse Engineering: SF&E Creates 3D Model from Pattern

SF&E Engineers Jesse Binder and Tony Geiger talking through the modeling process

3D Modeling has proven results for OEMs, especially when sourcing complex parts. Prior to 3D modeling technology, a full pour was done to determine the integrity of a sand or investment casting. Every time a non-compliant defect was found, the rigging and gating needed to be modified and the process started all over again. This cost the customer and foundry valuable time and money. 

Today, 3D software such as MAGMASOFT® simulates the casting process using a 3D model. Foundries can create an automated virtual test plan to ensure we are set up for success and will avoid rigging that  produces inclusions, porosity, or cause a part to collapse.

It’s a tool Stainless Foundry & Engineering (SF&E) has heavily invested in to ensure casting integrity. So much so, that we run all of our brand-new products through 3D modeling to ensure success from the start. Utilizing this technology, we can make adjustments in the software to validate the final design before doing any physical pattern or casting work. This decreases customer costs and lead times, improves the overall quality of the final part, and improves efficiency and capacity for foundry operations.

Most customers anticipate this and are ready to provide 3D model files and/or up to date 2D drawings. But that is not always the case, especially if the same foundry has produced a part for a number of years. Recently, SF&E began work with a new customer part. The customer could only provide the part and a set of 2D drawings that dated back 10-15 years. These drawings were too old to be relied upon because it was likely that there were tweaks made to the pattern over the years.

With a very simplistic pattern geometry this would be no problem and simple enough to measure out and create a 3D model. But these parts were for the upper and lower parts of a pump casing, which are cast separately and then bolted together. Each part has complex geometries and internal passages. 3D modeling is crucial to produce the highest quality part within the expected lead times – and only helps the customer in the long run. It was time to get creative.

Examples of 3D Scan

The SF&E engineering team combined old school pattern making knowledge with their MAGMASOFT® technical acumen and some reverse engineering to build a 3D model. First, they used a 3D scanner to scan the existing pattern. This technique allowed them to collect line-of-sight data, but they were missing most if not all of the undercuts. To create the undercuts and the internals, SF&E scanned the core boxes and developed 3D models that were used to create the correct part geometry. The team completed the rest of the model with their own educated interpretation drawing, then used trial and error to test and validate the model. From there, we submitted our model to the customer for approval before manufacturing.

Now, SF&E can move production forward using the 3D model. A little creativity combined with decades of pattern-making expertise can go a long way.

If you are considering moving a part to a new foundry, but are concerned about the lack of documentation, or if you are considering a new foundry partner who will go the extra mile for you, contact us at

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