Bo-Dyn Bobsleds Use SolidWorks to Design World’s Fastest Sled

For the Bo-Dyn Bobsled Project Inc., designers of the Night Train®bobsled that won the GOLD Medal at the Winter Games in 2010, it was the realization of a twenty-year-old dream. In a sport where hundredths of a second can mean the difference between gold and fourth place, Bo-Dyn turned to ModernTech, a leading SolidWorks® software Value Added Reseller, to create its latest innovation: The Night Train²®. Last week at Whelen Engineering in Chester, Conn., Bo-Dyn unveiled the results of that collaboration, and took its first run in Lake Placid, NY the next day. They took two runs in the old Night Train before the inaugural run in the Night Train2, and it was faster by quite a bit. “Considering it was the sleds’ first trip, this is encouraging,” said Geoff Bodine, founder of the Bo-Dyn Bobsled Project Inc. and winner of the 1986 Daytona 500.

The Night Train 2“After the Winter Games, the teams seek to shave hundredths of seconds off the time by testing and evaluating more complex designs and different materials. We realized we had taken 2D design as far as it could go and new ideas for the Night Train² could only be accomplished in 3D,” said Bob Cuneo, head engineer, Bo-Dyn. “From the beginning of the Night Train² design process, SolidWorks software had an impact in collaboration, and time and cost savings. It allowed our team to share files across the U.S. and with partners, expediting the design process.”

Bo-Dyn represents the rebirth of America’s bobsled reign. With roots in NASCAR, its journey actually began after the Winter Games in 1992 in Albertville, France. At the event in France, the United States team struggled, causing speed enthusiast Geoff Bodine to take notice. When he learned Americans were racing used and discarded European team sleds, Bodine flew to Lake Placid the next week, took a bobsled ride and he was hooked. He then teamed up with Bob Cuneo, a former racecar designer, to design and build American bobsleds. The rest is history; Steve Holcomb piloted the Night Train to the USA men’s first Olympic GOLD Medal since 1948.

For Bo-Dyn to continue this streak and take advantage of new concepts and materials, it meant outsourcing specialized work to subcontractors. “The ability to take pieces of the completed designs from SolidWorks is a huge advantage when working with subcontractors,” said Jim “Cheech” Garde, designer and model maker at Bo-Dyn. “We can share relevant sections with the CNC partners who can easily understand and manufacture the designs we send. With SolidWorks we can also better control tolerances of the machined parts, thereby raising the accuracy of the design.”

The Night Train 2Weight distribution is a universal problem in bobsledding and one of the factors the designers can influence. SolidWorks helps Bo-Dyn to seamlessly implement 3D scanned images of the handmade sled and then determine how and where to add new supports to the design. Viewing its designs in 3D, allows the team to package components and test their fit and weight without building prototypes.

“Before SolidWorks, we had to create prototypes by hand – there was no way around it — and those models ate up time and money,” said Jim Gleason, CAD designer Bo-Dyn. “Now we build and test in 3D with incredible accuracy that translates flawlessly to the physical bobsled. We can also ‘crawl’ around inside and articulate the models to view every aspect of the bobsled. It’s this level of freedom that allows Bo-Dyn to improve on the medal winning-design.”

While other international bobsled teams boast government-funded million-dollar research and design budgets, Bo-Dyn innovates on a budget. “We operate on nickels and dimes compared with many of our competitors’ budgets,” said Cuneo. “The cost savings associated with meeting tight deadlines and getting designs right the first time would not have been possible without SolidWorks. Working with ModernTech we learned the core features of SolidWorks, butwe’re just scratching the surface of its simulation and geometric capabilities. We’re looking forward to keeping our competition up at night and continuing our commitment to designing the fastest sled in the world.” 

“Since the inaugural run of the Night Train² last week in Lake Placid, we’ve officially started the countdown to the Winter Games in Sochi, Russia,” said Ron Weavil, Territory Manager with ModernTech. “Before Bo-Dyn’s efforts, most Americans had more knowledge of the Jamaican bobsledders than their own. Now the country can take pride in a gold medal team running in an American-made design poised for a repeat performance in 2014.”


More information:

At the official Bo-Dyn Bobsled website.

At the official Solidworks website.