A Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) composite vehicle developed for use at South Korea’s Suncheon Bay, a coastal wetland that requires a tourist transportation system with minimal environmental impact, uses a carbon fiber core to stay lightweight and flexible, but also strong.

The design for the composite pod featured a contour surrounding the door with a circumference of 30 feet. The challenge was to manufacture the structural frame in a single piece that would be rigid and lightweight, yet flexible enough to meet the required performance parameters.

This project required a carbon fiber core that was both woven and unidirectional, allowing the design to be optimized on a structure for different load cases. The layup process was undertaken “dry” with the part created in an autoclave. The part was finished using a phenolic resin system, which offers enhanced fire resistance compared to epoxy-based products.

The door surround is now fully operational on the PRT unit, which transports an estimated 3 million tourists annually around the Suncheon Bay reserve.