Speaking to an audience of nearly 5,000 of the top designers and mechanical engineers in the world at the SoldiWorks World Conference recently, the duo shared their 3D design experience in the creation of the next-generation bobsled, Night Train 2. The four-man bobsled is set to compete this weekend at the Sochi Olympics.
The Bo-Dyn Bobsled Project Inc. is the result of former NASCAR driver Geoff Bodine’s quest to build an American-made, medal-winning bobsled. After watching the USA team struggle using discarded European sleds at the 1992 Winter Olympics, Bodine applied his high-speed racing know-how with Cuneo’s design engineering skills to create a new generation of bobsleds. The result of their collaboration led to a new bobsled design, the original Night Train, used by the 2010 American team to win an Olympic gold medal for the first time in 62 years.
The design team turned to the SolidWorks application, based on Dassault Systèmes’ 3DExperience platform, to create a faster sled for the challenges of the Sochi Games. Bobsled speeds often exceed 90 miles per hour, and races are won by hundredths of a second. Aware of the strict rules enforced by sport officials and the challenges of achieving even better race times, Bodine knew that the 2D design tool they used for the first generation Night Train would not be enough to build the world’s fastest bobsled.
The original bobsled’s aerodynamics were optimized for the fast downhill track of the Vancouver, Canada, competition in 2010. The track at the Sochi Games, however, is filled with three tricky uphill sections that require precise handling to generate the most speed out of the track’s curves.
“We knew we needed an accurate and precise 3D design that could give us a realistic and cost-effective way to test and tweak Night Train 2 prototypes. The solution was SolidWorks,” said Geoff Bodine of Bo-Dyn Bobsled Project. “SolidWorks helped us design using a lighter material and creating multiple 3D prototypes of the bobsled on the computer so we could get it just the way we wanted it before we began building and manufacturing it.”
Bodine continues, “SolidWorks was incredible for allowing us to experiment with the weight of the sled and how that impacts the handling of the bobsled. You win in these races by a very small amount of time, and the key to winning is very small changes in design. SolidWorks lets us quickly make those crucial changes.”
The SolidWorks application is so instrumental to the Night Train 2 team that the head engineer who travels with the team is trained on the software to facilitate quick repairs or to collaborate on adjustments to sled components.
“Bo-Dyn and their bobsled that will race in Sochi show the power of the SolidWorks 3D design software application in inspiring people to create new designs and bring a vision to life,” said Bertrand Sicot, CEO, SolidWorks, Dassault Systèmes. “We wish them success in the Sochi Olympics.”