Reverse Engineering to Fix the Laser Cutter


Hello all. I’m Nick Zhang, a rising senior at Pennsylvania State University – University Park, studying mechanical engineering.

Working in the Dassault Systèmes 3DEXPERIENCE Lab, I have plentiful resources to develop my skills in manufacturing, modeling, and engineering design. Before my arrival at the 3DEXPERIENCE Lab, there was an incident where the linkages in the laser cutter were damaged. I worked alongside my fellow intern, Matthew Desrochers to fix the damage. We decided that our initial project should be to fix this machine as it is expensive and frequently used.

We realized the laser cutter, Trotec Speedy 400, had problems with the linkages, and our job was to recreate proper links in SOLIDWORKS, recreating them through the use of additive manufacturing. Additive manufacturing is the process of joining materials to form objects from the original 3D model. You can refer to my colleague Ben Horton’s post for more information about additive manufacturing.

The first step when designing the link was to utilize calipers to measure out the part. After doing so, I used SOLIDWORKS to recreate the overall shape of the piece.



This part demonstrates the overall dimensions. Later, Matt and I created cuts to modify the overall shape, and here is the initial prototype.


The image on the right depicts our earliest prototype – printed on Sindoh’s 3DWOX1. We use Sindoh’s printers for most of our prototypes as they are the workhorse of the lab. This prototype was successful, but the result was not structurally sound.

Later, we added additional modifications to add structural support, which included fillets and extrudes. Our final product is subsequently printed on the Markforged, and there is a much better finish.



The image on the right portrays our final prototype. The edges are much smoother, and it allows the laser cutter to function correctly. We have successfully fixed the laser cutter.

Taking on multiple projects in the 3DEXPERIENCE Lab has drastically elevated my knowledge in mechanical design, which allowed me to reverse engineer the linkages needed for the laser cutter and many other projects. As a current mechanical engineering student, learning how to use SOLIDWORKS and using it in real-world applications like reverse-engineering the laser cutter linkages has helped me develop my skills. Students can learn how to use SOLIDWORKS on their own with SOLIDWORKS Student Edition, or at school with SOLIDWORKS Education Edition. I’m excited to use my skills in future projects with the 3DEXPERIENCE Lab.


Nick Zhang

I am a SOLIDWORKS intern working at the 3DEXPERIENCE Lab in Waltham, Massachusetts. I am a rising senior at The Pennsylvania State University, pursuing a bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering. My interests include boxing, swimming, and volleyball.

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