Yacht design for the America's Cup race is bound by strict rules, making each minor change in design a crucial differentiator. For the 2003 race, Prada Challenge engineers are betting on advanced simulation of the entire boat design to give them the edge to beat out the current Cup holders, Team New Zealand.
Building on the successful use of Pro/ENGINEER (PTC, Needham, MA) and other software during the boat design for the 2000 race, the design team at Prada has fully shifted to 3D tools. The team itself has grown threefold, with a total of 20 people for design, engineering, and drafting, including dedicated engineers for sail design. Now these engineers can analyze all the boat's parts within their assembly context. "We have become much more results-orientated and have access to more performance information up front," says Dave Egan, Prada Technology director. "Design reviews are now a team approach that includes the Sailing team because the 3D models are easier to interpret and understand."
The design group now has more than 24 Pro/ENGINEER seats and uses a wide variety of analysis software.
The new functionality in Pro/ENGINEER called External Analysis is used to communicate the computational fluid dynamics (CFD) to the geometry in Pro/ENGINEER. PTC's Pro/MECHANICA motion can also receive loads from ICEM CFD using a custom loads function.
This emphasis on CAD engineering and simulation has given Prada both the experience and the personnel to simulate not just the boat, but also its entire environment. "This is a unique situation, where we need to analyze solids (the boat), fluids (the water), and gases (the air), all at the same time," Egan says.
The Prada team is also starting to look into ergonomics for the deck design. "Just two years ago I would have said that applications for ergonomic study were a long way off, but today we can already see them on the horizon," Egan asserts.
With just a few more months before boat construction, the design team is testing the last changes. Qualifying races for the America's Cup start in Oct 2002, and Cup races start on in Feb 2003.
For more information about CAD software from PTC: Enter 541