Jun 26, 2011

SolidWorks Software Helps Non-Engineer Design and Test "SuperTruck"

User Group Community Continues to Innovate and Elevate Jeremy Singley’s Design to the Next Level.

CONCORD, Mass – Jeremy Singley is not an engineer. In fact, he doesn’t want to be an engineer. However, thanks to software from Dassault Systèmes (DS) SolidWorks Corp., he doesn’t need to be an engineer to produce the ultra-aerodynamic tractor-trailer designs he’s developing with other members of the SolidWorks user community.

Singley, owner of Jeremy Singley Industrial Design, is designing a kit of attachments to make tractor-trailers more aerodynamic resulting in lower fuel consumption. He uses SolidWorks ® CAD and SolidWorks Flow Simulation software to experiment with new shapes and test the mechanical practicality of designs to ensure they can still turn and maneuver even as they cut through the air more cleanly. A designer with an art background, Singley relies on SolidWorks to provide the engineering insights he needs to refine his designs. He uses SolidWorks 3D solid models to work out his ideas from a design’s inception through production because he thinks and innovates better in 3D.

“I’ve always been a hands-on 3D guy. I skip right over 2D design hand sketching. I used to go straight to the shop and slap together physical models of scrap wood. Now I breathe a lot less sawdust,” said Singley. “I prefer SolidWorks because it’s intuitive to use, and it has its own intelligence. With SolidWorks, the software will frequently override your mistakes or at least give you clear clues as to what you need to correct. I like that.”

Singley has used SolidWorks to design everything from consumer electronics to furniture and lighting fixtures. As such, it was a new and exciting challenge when former trucker and drag racer Bob Sliwa contacted Singley through a SolidWorks user group to talk about a tractor-trailer design. Sliwa, with support from over 20 corporate sponsors, including CITGO, Alcoa, and Michelin, wanted to improve tractor-trailer mileage from today’s six to seven miles per gallon to 15 miles per gallon by reducing drag by 60 percent. The goal of the project is to help design the SuperTruck, the world’s most streamlined rig.

In order to participate in this project, Singley decided to learn SolidWorks Flow Simulation to evaluate his designs’ aerodynamics, though not without reservations. Without an engineering background, he wondered if he could learn the software.

“I took a SolidWorks Flow Simulation class and after two days, I was ready to go,” Singley said. “The software is easy to learn, robust, and works seamlessly with SolidWorks CAD. I can see results right away, make changes, and immediately see the new results. I find that viewing flow over specific surfaces suggests new shapes to try. Often times something that’s happening at the truck’s front grill will cause turbulence 20 feet behind the truck.”

Sliwa is in the process of building a prototype for real-world tests. The curved and bladed components are designed to fit on flat surfaces on the tractor trailers that cause turbulence. The curved shapes cleave the air more cleanly, reducing drag on the truck and lowering fuel consumption. AirFlow Truck Company will sell the kits that convert conventional rigs to hyper streamliners that should get at least nine MPG for the average driver, and perhaps close to 15 for a careful driver. Sliwa, a very careful driver, hopes to set that record.

“Designers’ tools should never be an obstacle to creativity and innovation. This is why improving ease-of-use has been a constant priority at SolidWorks,” said Stephen Endersby, Simulation product manager, DS SolidWorks. “Jeremy Singley is another example of the creativity we look to foster in our user community. Great ideas pop up daily; we look to give the tools to bring those ideas to life.”