Curing the Winter Sports Blues with Bobsledding

Most years the short month of February is possibly the least exciting month for sports in the United States. February starts with the biggest game of the year with the crowning of the NFL’s top team, but then what?

Once every four years we get a reprieve from the February sporting blues and the world comes together to celebrate the games of the Winter Olympics. The Winter Olympics are an incredibly exciting event where some of the world’s best athletes come together to compete. One thing that I have noticed of late is that sheer amount of equipment that Winter Olympic sports require.  Have you ever seen a hockey team traveling with its gear? Bags upon bags of equipment. This is where engineering and athletics share a common goal to deliver gold medal performance for your country.

Now that the Olympic games have come to a close, I’ve been watching the Facebook status of my 10 or so friends  and have noticed a lot of folks going through Olympic withdrawal.  To help combat the Olympic blues  for a non-basketball fan, we wanted to start prepping over here at Altair for the Olympic games in Winter 2022. So now that we are patiently waiting the next season of sports to begin, let’s give Inspire a spin!

So, I got to thinking… what would be an appropriate sport for our team of husky computer demo jockeys? Curling possibly, but I doubt we would be allowed to use our engineering skills to make changes to the equipment. So what sport involves speed? Cool equipment and 200+ pound athletes?

That’s right… bobsledding!  In this blog we will explore how Inspire’s simulation-driven design platform can be used to create a world-record breaking bobsled.

Bobsleds are powered by two forces, the team on board and gravity.  Since F=ma, one of the primary rules governing a bobsled competition is a maximum combined weight for the sled and crew.  So why would anyone want to light weight a bobsled?  Ever noticed how the team members move their heads to different sides of the sled during cornering? Simply put any mass used in the bobsled itself is static and can not be moved during a race. To maintain top speeds during cornering, the teams relocate mass to change the overall center of gravity.

Inspire Motion can be used to create a virtual test rig for our existing bobsled design. This easy to use motion environment can be used to simulate the dynamic forces

Inspire leverages topology optimization to efficiently distribute materials resulting in strong and lightweight parts based on the loading from the virtual bobsled rig.

In this first installment of the ‘Altair bob sledding team design study’, I’d like to introduce you to Inspire Motion and the first revision of our potential 2022 sleigh. We are going to use this model to highlight lots of cool tips and tricks to help drive your design with simulation.

May the force of gravity be with you!

David Roccaforte
David Roccaforte

About David Roccaforte

David Joined Altair in 2017 and is currently a Senior Applications Engineer for the solidThinking team. David has over 20 years of experience in manufacturing , product design and analysis. “After seeing the benefits of CAE as a product engineer I made it my mission to help companies adopt simulation technologies earlier in development and to a broader audience” . David has worked in a broad range of industries from Automotive to Off highway and Aerospace using various tools from multi body dynamics to fluid dynamics and structural analysis. When David is not at his computer you can find him in the garage working on multiple DIY household projects or wrenching on “Stella” his beloved 1972 Pontiac Firebird. David has BSME and MSME degrees from the University of Michigan – Dearborn.