Effeffe Berlinetta: A Car Of Yesterday, Conceived Today, Built in 3D CAD

The Effeffe Berlinetta is a throwback Italian sportscar paying homage to the classic years of Ferrari, Osca, Maserati, Stanguellini, Siata, Moretti and others. The vehicle was brought to life by a team of design and engineering enthusiasts using SOLIDWORKS to build their dream car. Read Part I here to learn about the team and their inspiration for building high-performance machines.

From Artist to Industrialization

“We tried to standardize as much as possible the tube section focusing on the simplest possible design,” Sirtori revealed. “The whole frame is braced with “handkerchiefs” joints to ensure rigidity and sheet metal reinforcement. On the plates we arranged suitable reference to facilitate the welding process: the welder puts the platelets in place, wedging them with references on tubes. Mistakes are eliminated and every frame can be identical. SOLIDWORKS proved to be a perfect setting for all operations. Cutting and bending of pipes is executed by CNC machines. SOLIDWORKS allowed us to produce almost automatically the bill of materials and cutting, the drawings to be delivered for laser cutting, and the outline for the bending lines.”

The design proceeded with the study and the adaptation of the car forecarriage via a sheet metal box; the rear axle uses the rigid rear bridge (typical of early ‘60s Alfas). However, it was significantly modified in the joints to the frame. A differential gear was installed, bought in the UK where there’s a thriving market for racing components, built today but based on the originals.

The Effeffe Berlinetta’s engine is an update of the world-renowned Alfa Romeo Giulia’s. After the first engine was acquired on the second-hand market, SolidWorld technicians redesigned it entirely in SOLIDWORKS from scratch, complete with carburetors, camshafts, gears, pulleys, valves and pistons. All SOLIDWORKS kinematics algorithms were used to verify all dimensions and volumes. “Thanks to this “exercise,” we were able to choose the best place for exhausts, where to put the throttle control, modifying and fixing, for example, the clutch housing,” said Sirtori. “The coachwork was entirely built by hand over the completed frame by a panel-beater, an artist who “set” thin aluminum sheets (0.8 mm) on a lightweight tube frame.”

The vehicle’s body was designed directly by the Frigerio brothers and then smoothed, filled and painted. Though it was a beautiful piece of craftsmanship, it would be problematic to replicate. Here Solid Energy, a company that specializes in reverse engineering, came to help. Solid Energy performed a complete 3D scan of the Effeffe Berlinetta to capture its geometry inside the CAD model, correcting the inevitable asymmetry and the imperfections typical of any manual work. Thanks to mathematics imported into SOLIDWORKS, the tubular frame was also digitized, so the workshop could take advantage of CNC-bending machines, obtaining consistent results in each model. A 3D printer from Stratasys was also used to create the double-f logo (made in resin and chrome) mounted on the radiator grill of the car.

A Real Added Value

Digital prototyping played a key role in this recreation of a classic car. “Without the digital prototyping, this project would never have taken off,” says Sirtori. “With the money spent to build physical prototypes consuming the budget, not to mention the enormous increase of time, we’d still be struggling with the first evaluations. The real added value here isn’t just the ability to design tubes to be cut and welded, but rather the fact that we could examine, without wasting time, dozens of alternative solutions, all virtual, without spending resources or money. Not purely aesthetic variants, but functional: overall dimensions, mechanisms movement, collisions, component optimization and assembly techniques. Everyone involved in the Effeffe Berlinetta adventure could see on screen the design development in later revisions, giving opinions and advice through the simulation. Once we validated the final configuration, we could build confidently: the first frame was already perfect. Practically we didn’t build any prototype!”

Even the Frigerio brothers were deeply satisfied. “The frame proved to be great, the rear axle has a very good grip and the structure lightness allows for outstanding performance in relation to the available power. The idea now is to put this simple sport car into production, applying the same concepts from sixty years ago interpreted and corrected for optimum operating efficiency and rationality.” Today the Effeffe Berlinetta is ready to be built by hand in about twenty units a year. The price will be about 350 thousand euros.

The3DGroup: A Wealth of Expertise

While projects like this “Effeffe Berlinetta” are generally undertaken by collaborative efforts of equipment or software manufacturers and large multinational companies with limitless resources, this project was led by distributor the3DGroup. The Italian company proved to have all the knowledge to carry out a project as complex as designing and building a car. Drafting patterns and schemes, designing and modeling geometries (solid and surface), performing structural analysis, fluid dynamics, kinematics simulation, applying digital prototyping and 3D printing. Each step was under the watchful eye of its technicians and experts – especially Carlo Sirtori.

Giancarlo Giannangeli

Giancarlo Giannangeli is senior Multimedia Communication & Marketing freelance consultant in IT & Mechanics. He’s been working for decades with many firms in Italy and has written hundreds of articles on Italian press. Currently he’s editor for Tecn’è and Tecnologie Meccaniche magazines.