Accurate Flow Simulation Helps Automaker Get Better Results While Increasing Creativity

Palatov Motorsport designs and manufactures high-performance, super lightweight automobiles built in Portland, Oregon. Primarily targeted at recreational track day use, the company’s mission is to create and build designs with outstanding performance that provide unmatched value.

Palatov’s workflow primarily uses SOLIDWORKS® software, which enables the company to create components and fit them together into a car design, and then use SOLIDWORKS Flow Simulation CFD software to test the airflow, mechanical, and thermal performance. This will be fed back into further design updates.

With a single car comprising 750 to 1,000 individual components, this places a huge load on processor and graphics subsystems. The CFD simulation will be an equally massive processing job. This means that every part of a workstation needs to provide the best possible performance.

The Need for Speed – Off the Track

Palatov was experiencing workflow interruptions at two points in the production cycle. “If I’m spending a lot of time just twiddling my thumbs waiting for the model to reorient itself or to zoom in and out, that slows down the process a lot,” explains Dennis Palatov, Owner of Palatov Motorsport, LLC.

The second interruption was when it came to testing the designs with SOLIDWORKS Flow Simulation. “CFD is very incremental. You change one little thing and you rerun it. Normally it takes 12 hours. So I used to set it up last thing at night, let it run overnight, come in, get the results and then go on with the rest of the day.”

The company had been using workstation technology based on the Intel Core i7 processor with AMD Radeon™ Pro WX 7100 graphics. This provided an adequate modelling experience, but when a simulation was running it was a different story. “CFD used to be an overnight project,” says Palatov. “The key thing is to visualize and evolve the design in real time and see where everything fits. So the tools really have to move at the speed of my thought. If I have to wait, then it’s very disruptive, and it really negatively impacts productivity.” To resolve the issue, Palatov implemented AMD CPUs and GPUs (AMD Ryzen 3950X processor and AMD Radeon Pro W5500) with impressive results. “I found that I can run a CFD simulation and still have full usability of SOLIDWORKS on the same computer,” said Palatov.

With the power of the 16 cores of the AMD Ryzen 3950X, it meant that staff could use 8 to 10 of these for flow simulation and still have some leftover for modelling. Palatov Motorsport has a specific example with one of its car design simulations. “The old system took seven hours and 24 minutes to finish it,” says Palatov. “The new system took six hours and 22 minutes, but I was also using SOLIDWORKS in the foreground simultaneously. The old system was basically running only CFD and was completely useless for anything else at the same time.”

According to Palatov: “The productivity is the payoff. The value proposition is very easy. You save a significant amount of time and do a lot more with every day, so you look at your personnel costs and opportunity costs versus equipment costs, and it becomes very compelling. It makes me enjoy the work a lot more, and it makes me more excited and motivated. It’s not just work; it’s actually fun when the tools get out of your way and just let you be creative.”

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