Until now, anyone who had to use a wheelchair for any length of time would have had to have been satisfied with the standard black and silver options. However, thanks to Benjamin Hubert and his experience-driven design agency, Layer is going to be releasing the world’s first 3D printed wheelchair to be made for the consumer market. The chair will be shown at London’s Clerkenwell Design Week that will be taking place towards the end of this month.
Devoted to Creating Human-Centered Designs
Layer is a company that has become well-known for its devotion to creating human-centered designs. The GO wheelchair is in fact its first project that is being engaged in under the company’s research division, LayerLAB, and it is a step in the direction of its goal in that regard. Hubert stated in this regard, “With the Go wheelchair, we saw an opportunity to really progress the manual mobility category for users with disabilities, and to use 3D printing technology to solve significant and meaningful problems.”
Developed Over Six Months
The Go wheelchair has been created in collaboration with 3D printing company Materialise, and the process took approximately six months from start to finish. During this time, designers worked with existing wheelchair users and a host of medical professionals to ensure that all of the concerns and needs of users would be able to be met when using it. The chair has been described as being a “tool to improve the quality of life of wheelchair users” and it will feature a completely customized seat and foot bay area to ensure that users are as comfortable as possible when seated in it.
Each of the customizable components mentioned above will be created by mapping out an individual user’s biometric information and then entering that data into the 3D printing software – something that Layer mentioned would be a world first for consumer wheelchairs that haven’t been specifically designed as one-off projects or for paraplegic athletes.
The wheelchair’s seat is printed in a combination of two materials, namely thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) and a semi-transparent resin. The TPU will help provide a degree of shock absorption, making the seat more comfortable than those found in standard wheelchairs, and the foot bay will be made from titanium. Hubert said, “3D printing for manufacture is the most appropriate and powerful technology available to capture each individual’s unique body shape to enhance the form and format of a very necessary product and provide exceptional performance.”
Layer is hoping that it will be able to address the problem of the chair self-propelling when it is used in wet weather, which is a common concern among most wheelchair users. The company will be creating wheels that would have the ability to lock into custom-made gloves. Along with the elements that can be fully customized, Layer is going to allow users to choose colors and other options when they order their chairs through the already-available app.
Image Source: layerdesign.com