Winning Product Designs: A Little Red Hyperloop Pod [Interview]

Written by: Cat McClintock

A few months ago, PTC asked Creo users to submit their best work for a Product Design Contest. Submissions came from more than 60 countries and included objects like a wooden bike, 3D printer, and bottles—all made with Creo product design software.

One design that captured our judges’ attention was a hyperloop pod from recent college graduate, William Clarke Steppe.

William Clarke Steppe received honorable mention for his hyperloop pod design

The hyperloop pod designed by William Clarke Steppe received an honorable mention in PTC’s Product Design Contest.

Location: United States

The design: We’ve talked about hyperloop technology on the blog before. Essentially, it’s a concept for a pneumatic transportation system that will carry people in capsules or “pods” through tubes on a cushion of air. These vehicles, once implemented, will travel at speeds so fast, you’ll be able to travel from San Francisco to Los Angeles in just 30 minutes.

SpaceX helped promote the idea (and innovation) by hosting a Hyperloop Pod Competition for college students in late January 2017.


And that’s where Steppe and the UWM Mercury III hyperloop team* come in. The team took up the SpaceX challenge and developed what appears to be a little red sports car for our pod future.

Model of hyperloop pod designed in Creo

Steppe’s hyperloop pod entry

With a frame designed in Creo 3.0, the pod is both attractive and sturdy—able to withstand forces associated with travel as fast as 700 miles per hour.

The design challenges: Steppe says he addressed three major challenges with this project:

The result: Steppe said he is most proud of the pod’s frame. “Much work went into the design of the frame; hours upon hours of work initially designing the frame, followed by hours upon hours of performing finite element analysis to ensure that design would survive the forces applied to it.”

Once the model was finished, the team built a ¾-scale prototype. Unfortunately, they did not ultimately enter the pod into the SpaceX competition, due to cost constraints associated with safety equipment. The good news is that it didn’t cost anything to enter the design in the Creo Design Competition, and we are delighted he shared his work with us.

Prototype of hyperloop pod frame

A three-quarters-scale model of the pod frame.

Why Creo? The UWM Mercury III hyperloop team did all of their design work in Creo, which allowed them to create their designs quickly and accurately. Steppe said, “Using the finalized Creo designs, we were able to price out the raw materials we needed, get mass estimates, and ensure that we were able to fit everything within the fairing [ed. outer shell of the pod].”

Creo 4.0 thoughts: Although Steppe used a previous version of Creo to design the pod, he said Creo 4.0’s augmented reality functionality would help him to get a better handle on scale—the size of the designs in real life. “It can be difficult to visualize that from a computer screen,” he said.

Any advice for someone trying to create their own winning design with Creo? “If you are proud of your work that is all that matters in the end,” says Steppe.

*Steppe also acknowledges the help of John Patterson for helping with the fairing and Jared Kobriger for providing some of the initial work for the frame.

Start Creating Winning Designs Today: Download Creo 4.0

No matter what you want to create, Creo 4.0 can help you develop stellar designs. Packed with hundreds of enhancements, this release is easier to use than ever, and includes tools for better 3D printing and model-based definition. Visit the Creo 4.0 page to find out more and start using it today.

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Tags: CAD Retail and Consumer Products Connected Devices

About the Author

Cat McClintock

Cat McClintock contributes to the Creo and Mathcad blogs for PTC. She has been a writer and editor for 15+ years, working for CAD, PDM, ERP, and CRM software companies. Prior to that, she edited science journals for an academic publisher and aligned optical assemblies for a medical device manufacturer. She holds degrees in Technical Journalism, Classics, and Electro-Optics. She loves talking to PTC customers and learning about the interesting work they're doing and the innovative ways they use the software.