Toronto snowmobile racer Shawn Watling was using cardboard, string, and stacks of paper to dial-in his new method to power snowboards when an engineer buddy turned him on to software from Dassault Systemes SolidWorks Corp., Concord, Mass. Watling designed a snowmobile powered by a rear axle instead of the traditional one in the front of the sled. Third-party tests show that compared to traditional designs, the Rear Axle Drive (RAD) technology delivers 30% more power to the ground, 10% increase in top speed, and up to 72% increase in fuel economy.The software helped Watling win the Popular Science Invention Award for his design.

Watling modeled the whole sled, down to every screw and washer, in SolidWorks 3D software. He also used SolidWorks Simulation for stress and motion analysis and to cut excess weight from the design. He exchanges DXF files with machinists for waterjet and laser cutting. “I determined all the things a snow machine does and charted the physics,” he says. “SolidWorks lets me try multiple what-ifs using all types of geometry without having to make a physical prototype every time. For example, I rattled off eight swing-arm designs in a couple of days and then used SolidWorks Simulation to measure the ground forces, a critical factor in the design."

Further, Watling is installing RAD on racing sleds that will generate 500 hp and intends to attempt the Guinness World Record for the asphalt quarter-mile later this year. He’s also shooting for the Ice Oval record at Eagle River, Wis., a record which has stood for 20 years. “I’m much faster, more organized, and more productive with SolidWorks,” Watling says. “Without it, I wouldn’t have advanced the design to this stage, much less be on the way to taking it to the next level.” Watling relies on authorized SolidWorks reseller Javelin Technologies for ongoing software training, implementation, and support.