F1 Star Jenson Button Launches Cambridge University’s Solar Race Car

By Tom

I’ve been fortunate enough to follow the Cambridge University Eco Racing team over the past year (you can follow them too: http://twitter.com/cuerendeavour) and see the car being designed from scratch. Last Weekend they launched their solar race car, named Endeavour, at the legendary Goodwood Festival of Speed in Chichester, England. Adding excitement to the launch was the appearance of Jenson Button, Formula 1 championship leader and the star driver of Brawn GP’s racing team. Jenson helped launch the racer by autographing the vehicle in front of the world’s press and media. Check team photos and the video of Jenson signing the car here.

Jenson commented:

There’s some very impressive technology in this racing car. It may be a world away from an F1 car in terms of power, but to get a car to drive at 60mph using 2 horsepower takes cutting-edge engineering.

The main attraction of the Festival of Speed is the hill climb competition. The tricky course should be a breeze for the CUER team compared to the upcoming challenge their solar race car was made for – the 2009 World Solar Challenge. This daunting challenge will require the team’s car to race across the Australian outback from Darwin in the Northern Territory to Adelaide in South Australia. The 3000km race will take the teams competing a whole week to complete the journey, travelling the length of the infamous Stuart Highway.

The Cambridge team used SolidWorks for the overall car design. The car is a three wheeled tricycle configuration to reduce mass and simplify drive-train. The aluminium space-frame on top of which the carbon fibre composite shell sits has been designed to be as light weight as possible; weight is one , if not the main, consideration in the design of the car. With weight being such a crucial factor, Abaqus FEA was used to trim down the size of the Aluminium space frame chassis, and then virtually test the structural integrity of the frame. Earlier this year the team issued a joint press release with Dassault Systèmes that provides more information.

As the team races to the starting line in Australia later this year, they can rest assured knowing that with the help of Dassault Systèmes technology the car was designed to be as light, efficient, and nimble as possible!

Good luck team CUER!


P.S. I wish I could be in Australia to watch the race!

Tom Bianchi works as SIMULIA’s UK & Ireland marketing manager.

Visual Search Engines

By Oleg

I am always looking for innovative ways to explore information – product models, engineering information, visualization etc. If a picture is worth a thousand words, visualizing your search results can significantly improve your ability to find relevant information. One of the challenges in today’s information universe is to find relevant results. Instead of a long list of titles, URLs, Part and Document Numbers, visual search engines deliver rich results presentations, often visually connected to related search terms.

I’ve been looking around for some examples of visual search engines and I’d like to share these results with you. Even if most of the examples are not connected to what we expect to see in our PDM and PLM systems, I hope they will give you some ideas about how we can potentially improve our ability to search for data.

I conducted my own research and tried to use some of these visual search engines. Most of them explore web information, Wikipedia, Amazon books and some other information on the Web. My test case was to search for Product Lifecycle Management and see if I can better find results by using these engines. So, below you can see the results and short explanations related to visual search engines I tested.


KartOO is a Web-based visual search engine that can search the Web, images, videos and Wikipedia entries. Using Google and Yahoo! search engines, KartOO allows you to create a visual map where related results are linked between them.

Touch Graph Google Browser

Touch Graph Google Browser is a visual search engine that displays the connections between websites using Google technology and visualizing the results in an interactive and customizable map. You can arrange and filter results. On the picture below you can see “Product Lifecycle Management” result filtered for “Daily PLM Think Tank”


Grokker is Web search engine. Your results are displayed both in a standard outline and in an interactive dynamic map. Results can be sorted by date, source, domain and refined selecting (or excluding) specific related keywords. A Grokker enterprise version also exists.


Oskope is visual search engine for Web. You can visualize results in different styles like: grid, stack, pile, graph and list.


Quintura is Web search engine. Quintura allows you to present results in a customizable tag cloud, and a classic organic outline.

What is my conclusion?

I think Visual Search Engines provide a quite interesting concept to search for precise information. Sometimes you can see results, slices and dices you cannot see any other way. I’d be very interested in knowing what you think about visual search engine capabilities. Maybe you can share your experience in similar domains too?



Green design gets a little easier

By Matthew

I remember Kermit the Frog once sang “it’s not easy being green.” I think a lot of designers would agree. Many would like to be more environmentally conscious, but they’re still under pressure to reduce the cost of materials and speed up design times. The bottom line usually wins over being eco-friendly.

At SolidWorks World 2009, we announced a new product we’ve been working on that was going by the code name “Sage.” It’s a tool that integrates seamlessly into SolidWorks that allows designers to see just how eco-friendly the products they’re designing are.

We’re happy to announce that this new product, officially named SolidWorks Sustainability, is now available in beta form from the SolidWorks Labs website. This is the SustainabilityXpress version that will be included with every version of SolidWorks starting with the release of SolidWorks 2010. SolidWorks Sustainability was designed in collaboration with PE International, and leverages their GaBi database

SolidWorks Sustainability allows the designer to submit data about materials, place of manufacture, and a few other variables to set a baseline for environmental impact. You can then change the materials, country, and so on to see how it changes the impact. Specifically, Sustainability measures:

  • Carbon footprint
  • Total energy consumed during manufacture
  • Effect on air quality, specifically regarding acid rain
  • Effect on water quality, specifically regarding algae blooms in coastal waters

The data updates automatically as you change your designs. The “Find Similar” tool even lets you search the built-in material database for close alternatives to the material you have specified, so you don’t have to waste time scrolling through menus. Even if you’re not interested in sustainable design, this could come in handy. And when you’re done, the system generates a report that you can print out, or send to colleagues.

If you’re interested in learning more, visit the SolidWorks Labs site to download the beta version. And finally, here’s a quick video I shot with SolidWorks’ Director of Product Innovation Rick Chin, showing off the program. Enjoy!

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Beyond PLM (Product Lifecycle Management), Dassault Systèmes, the 3D Experience Company, provides business and people with virtual universes to imagine sustainable innovations. 3DSWYM, 3D VIA, CATIA, DELMIA, ENOVIA, EXALEAD, NETVIBES, SIMULIA and SOLIDWORKS are registered trademarks of Dassault Systèmes or its subsidiaries in the US and/or other countries.