Passion

Air Painting

Air Painting

To give shape to speed. That is the objective of Speedform, a project that brings together wind tunnel models, airflows represented by computer graphics, and the hand brushstrokes of a painter. Creating objects that are fascinating and unique in an extremely limited series for Ferrari collectors
Words

Gianemilio Mazzoleni

Where do ideas come from? What is the origin of the creativity that gives rise to unique objects?

In Ferrari it is all a question of teamwork. This is how Ferrari Speedform was born, bringing together the wind tunnel’s aerodynamic experts, the technicians who create scale models to be used in the testing, and a small group of painters who work on special projects.

‘It all began four years ago with a drawing, a simple visualisation of an air flow in the wind tunnel around a car bodywork, generated by CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) software,’ explains Luca Zanetti, Head of Global Sales, who set up the project along with Adalberto Cattabriga, Head of Special Sales, and Matteo Biancalana, Head of Aerodynamics. ‘It was fascinating, the visualisation of speed: we asked if it were possible to give it a shape, to create a physical representation of the air that flows along the surfaces of the car.’

The answer comes in seven models of a Ferrari 488 Pista, exact reproductions of the full-scale cars used in aerodynamic wind tunnel tests. As the Speedform name suggests, the project gives a form to speed itself.

Velocity Field Visualised with Line Integral Convolution: a stunning mathematical representation on the 488 Pista's surface of the velocity vector field in proximity to the body  <em>Photo credit: Pelle Bergstr&ouml;m</em>
Velocity Field Visualised with Line Integral Convolution: a stunning mathematical representation on the 488 Pista's surface of the velocity vector field in proximity to the body Photo credit: Pelle Bergström

‘When we are inside the wind tunnel we are able to measure the effect of the movement of the car in the air, thanks to dozens of sensors positioned inside the model and upon its surface,’ explains Biancalana. By using CFD software these airflows can be visualised, which is fundamental for the aerodynamic technicians to understand and to control the factors which generate the aerodynamic forces.

‘Lines and colours of differing intensities show the behaviour of the speed, and of the air pressure upon the model. The technicians are able to choose which of these parameters to visualise,’ says Cattabriga. ‘The possible aerodynamic representations are extremely varied, with dozens of nuances. It was not simple to choose which to utilise for this project.’

Pressure Coefficient Contour: this close-up shows the extreme accuracy in the measurement of air pressure around the intake, as well as revealing the extent of detail, including the door handles  <em>Photo credit: Pelle Bergstr&ouml;m</em>
Pressure Coefficient Contour: this close-up shows the extreme accuracy in the measurement of air pressure around the intake, as well as revealing the extent of detail, including the door handles Photo credit: Pelle Bergström

Transferring the vectorial quantities from the digital space to the models was done by hand-held paintbrush. The spirit of Ferrari is very much evident in all this: using advanced technology to create something, but relying upon an expert hand to complete the work and to render it unique. ‘The coloured lines along the models are one hundred per cent generated by the CFD,’ confirms Zanetti. ‘The painters paint them one by one with a millimetric precision, affording the models another material dimension.’

Surface Proximity Velocity Magnitude Contour: a stunning visualisation of the velocity intensity in proximity to the boundary layer. The blue colour shows where there is no velocity intensity  <em>Photo credit: Pelle Bergstr&ouml;m</em>
Surface Proximity Velocity Magnitude Contour: a stunning visualisation of the velocity intensity in proximity to the boundary layer. The blue colour shows where there is no velocity intensity Photo credit: Pelle Bergström

The design and the processes underpinning the Speedform have been patented by Ferrari, in order to protect this means of using shape and colour to represent a decisive moment in the birth of each new model. A moment in which the design of the car becomes evaluated by its most severe critic, the wind.

The Speedform models are quite imposing, almost two metres in length, all with a significant dynamic strength from the colour scale and the fluidity of the lines. They are built in carbon using rapid prototyping around an aluminium structure to recreate perfectly the shape of the car, to a scale of forty or fifty per cent. There are five CDF visualisations, each realised in eight, numbered, pieces.

Pathlines Coloured by Velocity: a representation of the airflow&rsquo;s speed and direction. Each line visualises the trajectory of a particle of air crossed by the car, and the changing colours are an indication of the particle&rsquo;s relative speed  <em>Photo credit: Pelle Bergstr&ouml;m</em>
Pathlines Coloured by Velocity: a representation of the airflow’s speed and direction. Each line visualises the trajectory of a particle of air crossed by the car, and the changing colours are an indication of the particle’s relative speed Photo credit: Pelle Bergström

This innovative project is aimed exclusively at Ferrari clients who desire to have objects in their collections that come with individual certification and which are part of an extremely limited series. Speedforms are truly a unique gift: not only are they an aesthetically attractive object, but also real, tangible, and accurate examples of the technological processes that lead to the creation of a Ferrari road car.

To the never-ending story of the legend of the automobile, Ferrari has added a new chapter.

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