Missouri S & T Students Experiment With New Carbon Fiber

New technology and style for the Missouri S & T human powered vehicle. 

We’ve been following Missouri S & T and their Human Powered Vehicle team for a few years now, documenting their progress as they race (and win) from coast to coast.

Checking in with team member Jon Sanders on the Missouri S & T team gave us a chance to see some of the major changes 2014 will bring for the team and their vehicle.

This year students will be manufacturing a three-wheeled chassis, as opposed to a bicycle-style chassis from previous years before. According to Jon, “We decided to go with a trike this year because we believe we can make it almost as fast as a bike. With a tricycle, there is also less complication with the design – for example, no landing gear is required, and less mechanical operations mean more time for design and testing.”

An engineering mock-up of the proposed body style:

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Last years Human Powered Vehicle:


Along with the major chassis change, the team is also using an entirely new type of carbon fiber for the body. “We decided to try a lighter carbon fiber this year, a ‘Spread Tow‘ carbon fiber, which is the same type used on Formula 1 cars and will allow us to use less layers, saving on overall weight,” explains Sanders.

Of course, the first step to using the new type of carbon fiber is having a mold to lay it up onto, which is where their Precision Board Plus sponsorship comes into play.

Coastal Enterprises donated Precision Board Plus PBLT-15 to the Missouri S & T HPV team, who enlisted the help of and their 5-axis CNC machine to get the molds ready for carbon fiber layup.

“After we got the molds back from Advanced Pattern, the first step we took was to coat them with a Minwax Polyurethane, followed by a coat of Duratec, sanding, and a final application of Orange Tooling Gelcoat and Duratec Hi-Gloss Coating,” recalls Fairing Engineer Mitchell Thurman.

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“The Precision Board worked great. Our molds were extremely precise, and once we finished the coating/sealing process, our vacuum bag process for the spread tow carbon fiber worked beautifully,” states Thurman.

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Missouri S & T students now have until April 11th, until the first Human Powered Vehicle Challenge takes place in Orlando, FL, to get the vehicle ready for competition.

We will be covering all updates for the Missouri S & T Human Powered Vehicle, please check back for more info!