Designing Better Performance Automotive Products Faster

By Mike Mello

03.02.2008

Have you ever thought about how performance engineering companies develop their parts? As you might imagine, engineers who develop top-performing vehicles and associated equipment need to be able to communicate in the same language when it comes to looking at plans, drawings and renderings, especially when partnering with multiple global companies. Since there is often little to no time for prototyping and considering that the speed at which a product can be brought to market is paramount, it’s easy to see the benefits of software that helps engineers cut down on development time.

Recently, I got to take a look at Pro/ENGINEER Wildfire 4.0, a 3D design program from PTC, used by performance car companies such as Callaway Cars and Dallara Automobili. Both companies use Pro/ENGINEER to help bring leading products to the world of performance driving at a rapid pace with the help of the cutting edge features found in Pro/ENGINEER.

Not being an engineer myself, the best way to describe Pro/ENGINEER is that it’s an extremely powerful three-dimensional computer-aided design program that allows one to design an object in a virtual-reality type of space. The parametric program quickly identifies engineering problems as they occur and can help the engineer find the best solution. An example of an image from the Pro/ENGINEER environment is below.

Additionally, Pro/ENGINEER can be used to test how a newly-developed product will function. For example, if an engineer were designing the backhoe arm on a new tractor, Pro/ENGINEER would let the engineer know just how far that backhoe can swing from side to side and can hold the constraints of one design solution while the engineer tries out another idea. By allowing the user to peel off layers of the design and move around pieces of the 3D model, using Pro/ENGINEER in an automotive application can show what works, what doesn’t, and helps companies bring their products to market faster than ever before.

The following examples show how Pro/ENGINEER helped Callaway Cars and Dallara Automobili:

When Callaway developed their 650 bhp C16 Corvette, they were able to design the car in only 5 months, enabling them to show the C16 Coupe at the L.A. Auto Show 6 months after beginning work on the project. One year after the start of the C16’s development cycle, the 700 bhp Speedster was ready for market.

In redesigning the air box for the naturally aspirated C5 Corvette, time was saved by being able to edit the C5 design for use in the C6, rather than having to start over from scratch. When Callaway engineers used Pro/ENGINEER to improve intake, brake, powertrain and suspension systems, Pro/ENGINEER was able to hold the constraints from one design to the next, saving time in parts development.

When Callaway designed its one-piece aluminum wheel, a 65-70% time reduction in engineering was achieved thanks to Pro/ENGINEER’s AutoRound feature. AutoRound helped engineers find solutions to challenging areas of the wheel’s design, such where the spokes meet the rim as it was crucial to maintain as close a look as possible to two-piece construction by clearly defining the end of each spoke. The time saved in designing the one piece wheel was specific to modeling the radii.

The new X-Bow by KTM, designed with Dallara Automobili, saw its engineers use Pro/ENGINEER throughout 100% of the X-Bow’s development cycle. Dallara officially started work on the X-Bow in April 2006, with the first 100 cars seeing production by Spring 2008. With both KTM and Dallara working in the Pro/ENGINEER environment, a fast development cycle was achieved and meant that KTM and Dallara’s pure performance car was able to be introduced in March, 2007, at the Geneva Motor Show. Read more about the KTM X-Bow here.

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Author: Chris Haak

Chris is Autosavant's Managing Editor. He has a lifelong love of everything automotive, having grown up as the son of a car dealer. A married father of two sons, Chris is also in the process of indoctrinating them into the world of cars and trucks.

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3 Comments

  1. For a technical geek like me, this is nirvana. The program sounds so cool. I’m a grad engineering student now and I’d love to have it to play around with.

  2. Playing around with it was awesome, so working with it must be the best. In super-non-technical terms, it’s as though you can just reach in with your hands and move pieces of the model around the space.

  3. jimmerjam, I’d like a crack at it too. Looks pretty good.

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