Digital design, PLM data support Renault Racing

Features - Cover Story

Elysium software corrects translation errors as engineers move data between various CAD, CAM, FEA packages.


A Formula 1 race begins long before the cars reach the starting grid.

“The first race is at the factory – it’s a race backstage that nobody sees,” says Ian Goddard, head of Technical Partnerships at Renault Sport Formula One Team.

In this extremely fast-paced world, parts are often needed with only weeks or days for design and manufacturing.

“Even when the freight leaves to go to a race, the research and development machine continues to produce innovation,” Goddard explains. “It’s not unusual for the last person who travels to a race event to carry several suitcases of extra luggage.”

To remain competitive with such short lead times, Renault Sport Formula One Team’s engineers need a seamless process from design to production.

“Effectively, if you manage to make the process shorter and more efficient, it adds competitiveness to the operations because you are freeing engineering, design, and manufacturing time that can be reinvested in more innovation,” says Mick Bennett, the team’s computer-aided design (CAD)/product data management (PDM) manager.


Renault partner Elysium, a Japanese company, develops interoperability solutions for digital design and product lifecycle management markets. Its tools help Renault Sport Formula One Team engineers translate, repair, and ensure product quality for 3D CAD/computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) and computer-aided engineering (CAE) models.

In F1’s compressed development cycles, engineers need to quickly and reliably convert data between various CAD and CAE formats. Built-in convertors and neutral files (for instance, when moving from Siemens NX to Dassault Systèmes CATIA), may include geometric flaws and imperfections such as missing faces and unclosed edges. Engineers may have to remodel the file to keep the part’s geometry – adding hours or days onto the design cycle. However, with Elysium tools, engineers can heal geometry in a fraction of the time.

Patrick Sergent, Elysium’s Europe engagement lead, makes a twice-yearly trip from Elysium’s European headquarters in Paris, France, to meet with Renault Sport Formula One Team engineers in Enstone, U.K., to demonstrate software updates and review the collaboration.

“We want to stay very close to them and make sure they are using our tools as efficiently as possible,” Sergent says. “Renault Sport Formula One Team will often have new challenges, and we want to ensure they are using our software to its full potential.”

Elysium CADdoctor software repairs full-car 3D model data used for racecar design, testing, simulation, and manufacturing.

The partnership

Elysium started working with Renault Sport Formula One Team in 2002. The engineers at Enstone already decided to move from a previous CAD package to CATIA, which meant translating a lot of CAD files, including legacy data.

“The first component to be translated to CATIA was a complete gearbox, but the engineers were spending so much time having problems with translation that they came to us through another partner,” Sergent recalls. “Finally, in just a few hours, the problems were solved. That was the starting point of our partnership.”

Throughout its development cycle, from concept to production, Renault Sport Formula One Team engineers use Elysium to complement its main CAD tool CATIA V5 – specifically CADdoctor, which heals or repairs any imperfections during the translation process. The software ensures product data quality before it is exported, in the most suitable form for reuse downstream.

At the aerodynamics concept stage, CADdoctor sends data to external partners in industry-standard codes, such as IGES, STEP, or Parasolid.

“In the aerodynamics and the wind-tunnel design departments, we use the software for visualization of complex geometries and refine or clean up the models. There can be some very advanced conceptual surfaces in this area so the contribution to data quality is very valuable,” Bennett explains.

Once in the full-size design environment, models move back and forth between CAD and finite element analysis (FEA). File sharing can be complicated as the engineering team’s stress analysts use a variety of tools – Abaqus, Patran, Nastran, a range of Altair tools, and others.

“The choice is based on the analyst’s experience and the requirements of the particular case. If we need linear, nonlinear, composite, or metallic analysis, we’ve got particular applications suited to each,” Bennett says. “CADdoctor supports this process by providing a reliable, efficient, and trouble-free mechanism to transfer the data between the relevant formats.”

Team engineers also use CADdoctor to simplify parts and remove selected features so they can more easily load a complex assembly into FEA for meshing and analysis.

In the design and manufacturing process, it is also useful to convert models between CAD versions, effectively downgrading models where features such as filter radii, or the tangencies of surfaces might not translate properly.

“We are currently working with Elysium to implement an automated export process to allow our CAM users to easily transfer CAD data to new machine tool controllers for NC programming. This will exploit (Elysium’s) Asfalis tools that complement the interactive CADdoctor software,” Bennett adds.

LEFT: A model of a Renault Sport Formula One Team race car front-wing assembly (including mainplane, flaps, vanes, and end-plates) is examined in Elysium’s CADdoctor. RIGHT: CADDoctor’s Auto Heal identifies flaws such as an intersecting loop problem where two or more boundaries intersect – in this case, they should meet at a tangent. The clean tool can fix this error type.

Trusted suppliers

Renault Sport Formula One Team manufactures most of its components in-house, but, when outsourcing is needed, a simple and dependable tool for data conversion allows them to choose from a variety of trusted suppliers.

Alexander Christ, technical expert at Elysium Europe, says “Any company facing time pressure in their development cycles and spending a lot of time reengineering models would benefit from our support.

“There is also a fast-growing market for CAD migration where Elysium is very active. We provide unique solutions that help many large and smaller companies to preserve the full design intent for future engineering change orders (ECOs) and reduce the amount of manual re-mastering.”

Renault Sport Formula One Team is certainly seeing the benefits of using the Elysium tools.

“In an industry where performance improvements are typically measured in fractions of a second, the substantial time-savings and improved reliability that CADdoctor provides throughout our processes free up our engineers’ time to carry out more design iterations and deliver more improvements to the track,” Bennett says.

Dassault Systèmes

Elysium Software

Renault Sport Formula One Racing Team

Siemens PLM Software Inc.