Consultancy Layer aims to “transform the wheelchair” with its new 3D-printed product that can be personally customised to the needs of each user.
The GO wheelchair is a collaboration between Layer and 3D-printing company Materialise, and has been created as a result of Layer’s new research lab LayerLAB.
The new product aims to “remove the stigma” from wheelchairs as purely medical devices, and redesign it as a “human-centred” every day object, says Benjamin Hubert, founder at Layer.
He adds that the new wheelchair hopes to “reduce injury” while “increasing comfort, flexibility and support”.
Two customisable parts
It has two “made-to-measure” components, being the seat and the foot-bay. All other elements have been produced as standard, but have been redesigned with the aim of reducing pain and increasing ease of use.
To create the two customised parts, the user’s biometric information is collected via body mapping then translated into 3D digital data, which is then used to design bespoke parts so that they “fit the user’s body”. This includes assessing the user’s weight, to work out the best centre of gravity for the seat, and assessing leg length and foot shape, to design the foot-bay.
The seat is printed from resin with TPU plastic for shock absorption, while the foot-bay is made from titanium with an anti-slip surface.
A consumer app
Other features of the wheelchair include a “lightweight” titanium frame for ease of use, wheels that require less power to push further, and accompanying GO Gloves which lock into push rims on the wheels to make it easier for users to propel themselves. These features aim to reduce risk of injury and risk of conditions like arthritis in the shoulders, says Hubert.
Layer has also designed a consumer app to go alongside the product, where users can input into the design process by specifying things such as optional features and colours. This includes transfer bars, to help users in and out of the chair, push bars, to assist movement and wheel guards, to protect users from wheels. Users can also place orders via the app.
Conducted research before designing
Hubert says that the consultancy spoke to wheelchair users and medical practitioners to inform their designs in order to “transform the wheelchair”.
“We’re interested in understanding how people use and misuse the most important tools in their lives,” he says. “We saw an opportunity to progress the manual mobility category for people with disabilities, and use 3D-printing technology to solve significant problems.”
The GO Wheelchair will be launched at 155 Clerkenwell during Clerkenwell Design Week on 24 – 26 May. A price is yet to be announced.