The original Night Train speeds down the track during heat 4 of the four-man bobsleigh competition at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics

3D design bridges gap between Olympic glory and defeat

3D design software has helped engineers shave the crucial milliseconds separating victory and defeat off the US bobsled team’s times.

Geoff Bodine and Bob Cuneo, the designers of the four-man bobsled Night Train 2 that is competing at the Sochi Winter Olympics in Russia, have hailed Dassault Systèmes’ SolidWorks application as instrumental in their efforts to improve on their Night Train design, used by the US team to win an Olympic gold medal in 2010 for the first time in 62 years.

Aware of the strict rules surrounding the design of sleds, former Nascar driver Bodine says he knew 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 competition in 2010, but the track at the Sochi Games has three 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 Bodine.

“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.”

The Bo-Dyn Bobsled Project was created after Bodine watched the US team struggle at the 1992 Winter Olympics using discarded European sleds, which inspired him to combine his high-speed racing know-how with Cuneo’s design engineering skills to create a new generation of world beating bobsleds.

 

 

With bobsled speeds often exceeding 90mph, races are won by hundredths of a second meaning that the slightest of tweaks to the design can mean the difference between a podium finish and obscurity.

Bodine said: “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 team’s head engineer, who travels with the team, is also 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 of SolidWorks, Dassault Systèmes. “We wish them success in the Sochi Olympics.”

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