How to improve aerodynamics with a virtual wind tunnel

By Tom Suddard
Jan 8, 2024 | Aerodynamics, CFD | Posted in Features | From the June 2022 issue | Never miss an article

Image Courtesy Morlind Engineering

Wind tunnel? What wind tunnel?

We successfully scanned our LS-swapped 350Z using chalk dust and an old camera so the wizards at Morlind Engineering could meticulously model its aero properties, eventually producing a perfectly accurate, fluid-tight CAD model that was ready for CFD–industry-speak for computational fluid dynamics. 

The next step? It’s time to put our virtual car into Morlind’s virtual …

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Colin Wood
Colin Wood Associate Editor
5/4/22 2:30 p.m.

Sure, it has a price tag, but I think it's pretty wild that this sort of service is available to pretty much anyone.

I'm not looking to improve the aero setup on any car, but it's good to know that I don't have to reserve time in a physical wind tunnel if I change my mind.

Johnny_at_NineLives GRM+ Memberand Reader
6/30/22 3:40 p.m.

In reply to Colin Wood :

best part it's free. we do the test and build the parts. the parts are a normal price. 

fidelity101 UberDork
10/11/22 9:28 a.m.

the OEMs print small scale models out of SLA (process) and wind tunnel those, it scales well to production size vehicles with simple math rather than print a whole 1:1 car. 

corsepervita HalfDork
5/1/23 12:13 a.m.

I've always wanted to do CFD testing but the software you can get for it is either free and insanely complex to even run, or very incredibly expensive and basically out of reach of most people who are doing this for hobby.

j_tso Dork
5/1/23 12:37 a.m.

DavyZ New Reader
9/11/23 2:36 p.m.

It's also "free" for those of us who look at what others have successfully done and then copy their modifications as closely as possible.  Sometimes "monkey see, monkey do" does work beneficially.  

Seriously, this article was very informative and shows what can be done without actually doing anything at all, so to speak.  (no wind tunnel)


Datsun310Guy MegaDork
9/11/23 2:50 p.m.

Hey, I'm in charge of the Bob Seger references.  

footinmouth GRM+ Memberand Reader
9/13/23 7:23 a.m.

That testing would cost more than my vehicle is worth 


TiviamTonal New Reader
1/9/24 12:15 a.m.

Something that was surprising to me was I recently watched a video about drag coefficients that made it seem like it is not a super exact science. The choice of wind tunnels can apparently have a fairly significant effect on the results from what that video said. We aren't talking totally different, but enough that differences like in this article of .30 vs .32 kind of just happen. Then again with what they say in the article maybe part of that is just that different vehicles of the same model can vary a fair bit based on tiny differences in alignment of panels and things.

stuart in mn
stuart in mn MegaDork
1/9/24 7:23 a.m.
fidelity101 said:

the OEMs print small scale models out of SLA (process) and wind tunnel those, it scales well to production size vehicles with simple math rather than print a whole 1:1 car. 

Many years ago I worked for a company that designs and builds wind tunnels.  Testing is mainly done on scale models simply due to economics, since building a wind tunnel large enough to hold a full size car (or airplane or whatever) would cost a lot more money.  NASA has a couple tunnels at their Ames facility in California that are large enough for full size testing; those are the only ones I can think of offhand, but there may be others.

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