Machine Design

CAD Helps Flying Car Get Airborne


Dassault Systémes SolidWorks Corp.,

Watch a videa of the first flight of the craft at

Airplane manufacturer Terrafugia in Woburn, Mass., used 3D CAD and simulation software to design its Transition aircraft — a plane that turns into a road-legal vehicle once on the ground. The craft has a full automotive suspension, crumple zones, and roll cages. But it also has wings that fold to the side with the push of a button.

As a double-duty vehicle, the Transition had to be light enough to take off, yet sturdy enough to pass government regulations for crash safety. Terrafugia first modeled the craft in SolidWorks 3D CAD and made the precise calculations needed to meet aircraft and road-vehicle safety and performance standards. The manufacturer modeled the craft’s major assemblies to ensure they would fit together properly before committing to physical construction.

SolidWorks Simulation software helped the company cut weight. “FEA features helped us determine how much material we could cut from the design without compromising performance,” says Terrafugia Vice President of Engineering and cofounder Samuel Schweighart.

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