SolidWorks and the Night Train

In 2001, the Whelen Engineering Company started sponsoring the Bo-Dyn Bobsled Project and the following year Phil Kurze (also Vice President of Whelen Engineering Company) was appointed President. Shortly after the Bo-Dyn Bobsled Project finished building the world’s fastest sled dubbed the “Night Train”. The Night Train was the result of a 20-year dream. According to Kurze, it cost over a quarter-million dollars to construct the Night Train. In the Winter Olympics of 2010, the U.S bobsled team won a gold medal — the first in the men’s category since 1948 — thanks to the Night Train.

In 2011, following intellectual property disputes, the Bo-Dyn Bobsled Project and the United States Bobsled & Skeleton Federation ended their collaboration. From then on BMW collaborated with the Bo-Dyn Bobsled Project as their bobsled provider.

Bobsled is a very sensitive and competitive sport. It is so competitive that even 0.01 seconds could mean the difference between coming 1st or 4th. After the Winter Olympics, the teams try to cut hundredths of seconds off the time by evaluating and testing different materials and complex designs. Bo-Dyn realized that they had done everything possible with the 2D design, and started looking for new ideas. This could only be achieved by shifting to 3D design.

To increase their competitive edge, the Bo-Dyn Bobsled Project partnered with ModernTech, one of the leading Value Added Reseller of SolidWorks software to develop Night Train 2. Based in Knoxville, ModernTech is a company that offers designers and engineers with 3D training and technology for the whole product development cycle — 3D prototyping, tech publishing, data management, design, and analysis.

The initiative started in 2013 and was completed shortly after. The Night Train 2 was developed using carbon fiber instead of fiberglass and kevlar since carbon fiber has better weight distribution. Since the beginning of the Night Train 2, SolidWorks software was instrumental in collaboration, and costs and time saving. It enabled the team to exchange files with partners across the United States accelerating the design process. SolidWorks 3D apps use the 3D experience platform of Dassault Systemes to enable millions of designers and engineers to be more successful by increasing innovation. SolidWorks delivers an intuitive experience in environmental impact assessment, data management, publishing, simulation, and product design.

After the Whelen Engineering Company announced the completion of Night Train 2, it was taken for a run in Lake Placid. Before the first run of Night Train 2, Whelen Engineering did two runs in the previous Night Train version. Night train 2 was significantly faster than the older version, which was very encouraging considering that this was its first run. In the Winter Olympics of 2014, the United States team started using Night Train 2.

For the Bo-Dyn Bobsled Project to continue being successful, it needed to make the most of new materials and concepts, one way to do this was by outsourcing specialized jobs to subcontractors. One of the huge benefits when collaborating with subcontractors was being able to take parts of the finished designs from SolidWorks. This allowed sharing of the relevant parts with the CNC partners who could easily capture the intended essence and produce the design required. SolidWorks made it possible the preciseness of the design by increasing the machined parts’ control tolerances.