A 3D-Printed Wheelchair Can Be Custom-Fitted for Users
The average wheelchair user spends 18 hours a day seated in his or her chair. But wheelchairs aren’t always comfortable, and if they fit improperly, can lead to pressure ulcers and other painful health issues.
London design agency Layer teamed up with the 3D printing software company Materialise to try to create a better wheelchair. According to designboom, creating the chair took six months of research with wheelchair users and medical professionals; the result, the 3D-printed GO wheelchair, is designed to be more comfortable, flexible, and customizable than standard wheelchairs. They’re lightweight and can be custom-tailored to the user’s measurements.
“One of the ways you can spot a true paraplegic is their feet on the footplate—they tend to pigeon-toe inwards,” one wheelchair user explained to the designers during the research process (according to a press release provided by the company). “For most of us, that is really frustrating because you don’t want to go around looking like that.” Others complained that they couldn’t get enough traction in wet conditions.
The chair is designed with a made-to-measure seat and foot-bay, and customers can choose add-ons like push bars or transfer bars. Layer is also developing gloves that will make it easier for its wheelchair’s users to propel themselves, reducing the long-term physical impact of using a wheelchair, such as shoulder arthritis.
The GO wheelchair is set to debut at Clerkenwell Design Week in the UK later this month. According to the company, it can be custom manufactured and delivered in two weeks.