koenigsegg_body2.jpgI love a good discussion and a recent post brought up a huge point. SolidWorks Case Studies are not always the most accurate.

The discussion hinged around car design and the Koenigsegg automotive case study issued by SolidWorks a while back.

“Koenigsegg used SolidWorks software to design the Koenigsegg CCX…”

You come away thinking everything from the styling to the roll bars was done in SolidWorks and the video makes it even more seemingly true. But what’s really true?

The point is made below in a comment from Al Dean, writer for MCAD magazine. It gives a great explanation of the phases for car design and reveals there’s more beneath the hood.

the automotive world uses different phrases for different processes – you don’t design and manufacture, it works like this.

First stage is Styling – this is where the aesthetic form of the vehicle is defined – using a range of tools like alias autostudio, some ICEM, although its rare in styling. Once you have your design approved and frozen, you then move on to:

Technical Surfacing: this sees the styling concept taken up a notch, every surface that appears on that vehicle (inside and out) is created as a high quality surface to surface skin of the vehicle. The term First Fillet and Flange is used a lot (although not exclusively) used to describe where you stop with the Tech Surfacing workflow. Where body panels end or interact with others, you create the fillet and the flange that are used for the joint or edge. This gives the designer the ability to have exact control over the appearance, in terms of shut lines, panel gaps etc. This is usually done with a tool like Autostudio or ICEM Surf – there are also specialised tools for analysing the gap and flish etc etc (blatant plug but this stuff rocks)

Once that’s done, you then move onto Body in White and Engineering. Body In White is the end result of taking those Technical Surfaces and creating the body panels and the class B surfaces behind them that turn it from a surface into a manufacturable part. Engineering is adding all the other stuff, interior, mechatronics powertrain, drivetrain, harnessing etc etc etc

With all this in mind, its worth remembering that if anyone ever claims that a car was “designed” in their software, chances are, its horse sh**.

SolidWorks made a big splash about Koenigsegg using their tools to “design the CCR” – truth is, they used SolidWorks to do the engineering and analysis , the Tech Surfacing was done in ICEM Surf – the thing is an incredible looking car, that’s nothing to do with SolidWorks – its enabling of its performance on the other [hand], is.

Interesting huh? It’s neat to think SolidWorks might have been used to design the whole car. But, really, it’s even nicer to know that SolidWorks was and can be used in conjunction with a surfacing program to create a car that breaks records.

It’s really to their detriment they don’t mention this in the story. Most design doesn’t start right away in SolidWorks and knowing the process from beginning to end is the real case study.

For more on Koenigsegg, visit their Design and Engineering showcase.


Josh is founder and editor at SolidSmack.com, founder at Aimsift Inc., and co-founder of EvD Media. He is involved in engineering, design, visualization, the technology making it happen, and the content developed around it. He is a SolidWorks Certified Professional and excels at falling awkwardly.