• Feb 15th 2009 at 5:31PM
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Say you've got a company making plastic vehicle wraps for advertising. One day, you drive your graphic'd-up car to the golf course, and after losing three balls trying to drive across a water hazard, you get to pondering the golf ball itself. Those distinctive dimples on the surface of a golf ball reduce aerodynamic drag, allowing your Titleist to sail over the fairway. What if you wrapped a car in a similar dimpled layer? Thus was born FastSkinz, a new venture of SkinzWraps. Instead of turning vehicles into garish mobile billboards for radio stations, FastSkinz applies a dimpled covering that is supposed to "trip" the boundary layer, changing airflow around the vehicle from laminar to turbulent, reducing wake turbulence, just like those dimples on a golf ball, or the fancy new Olympic swimsuits that mimic shark skin.

Call us skeptical, but what works for a round ball flying through the air might not have equal success when applied to an automobile. Not being aerodynamicists, we'll wait for independent test results to either verify or debunk the FastSkinz claims of an 18-to-20-percent fuel economy improvement. In the past, such large gains have been merely fantastical PR noise, and FastSkinz's own documentation is buried in acronyms and tends toward the obfuscatory; basically purporting that a vehicle wrap will substitute for reduced frontal area and a low coefficient of drag. There are also some equally uninformative videos, none offering the sustaining manna of clear understanding. Automotive airflow techniques are at the highest level of practice in racing, and you don't see mottled F1 cars. What those racing cars do sport, however, are other techniques of controlling and manipulating airflow, which are actually effective.

[Source: FastSkinz via MaxGladwell]

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