Flow Simulation Helps Auto Maker Achieve Better Results

Palatov Motorsport, LLC in Portland, Oregon, designs and manufactures high-performance super lightweight automobiles targeted predominantly at recreational track day use. The company’s mission is to design and build cars with outstanding performance and unmatched value.

Palatov’s workflow relies primarily on SOLIDWORKS® software, enabling the company to create components, fit them together into a car design, and then use SOLIDWORKS Flow Simulation, which is also included with the SOLIDWORKS Education package, to test the airflow, mechanical, and thermal performance. The Flow Simulation results help guide design updates.

A single car is comprised of 750 to 1,000 components, which place a huge load on computer processors and graphics subsystems. A flow simulation is an equally massive processing job. Such demands dictate that workstation performance must be top-notch in every respect.

The Need for Speed

Palatov was experiencing workflow interruptions that slowed the production cycle at two points. The first was waiting for a model to reorient or zoom in and out.

The second interruption came during the testing of 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 the last thing at night, let it run overnight, come in, get the results and then go on with the rest of the day,” explains Dennis Palatov, Owner of Palatov Motorsport.

The company used workstation technology based on the Intel Core i7 processor with AMD Radeon™ Pro WX 7100 graphics. This provided an adequate modeling experience, but running a simulation was a different story.

Getting There Faster

“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,” said Palatov.  Palatov resolved the issue by implementing 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.”

With the power of the AMD Ryzen 3950X’s 16 cores, staff could use 8 to 10 cores for flow simulation and the rest for modeling. For example, “The old system took 7 hours and 24 minutes,” says Palatov. “The new system took 6 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.”

When the Fun Starts

“The productivity is the payoff. The value proposition is very easy. You save a significant amount of time and do a lot more 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,” Palatov enthusiastically explains.

By combining SOLIDWORKS Flow Simulation for CFD with proper supporting computer hardware, Palatov Motorsports can accurately produce modeling experiences that generate critical data to create and build outstanding track-ready automobiles.

SOLIDWORKS Flow Simulation is included with the SOLIDWORKS Education Edition package. To learn more about how to get SOLIDWORKS at your school, contact your local reseller.


Mitch Bossart is a technology enthusiast and loves to write about product development and innovation. Whether working with Fortune 100 companies or feisty startups, Mitch finds every story unique and often inspiring.