Layer designs world’s first consumer 3D-printed 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.”
Benjamin Hubert of experience design agency Layer has designed the world’s first 3D-printed consumer wheelchair. The GO wheelchair prototype is the first project under Layer’s new research division, LayerLAB, and has been created in collaboration with Materialise, world leaders in 3D-printed software and solutions.
The made-to-measure, lightweight wheelchair was designed following an intensive six-month research period, with the company identifying wheelchair users’ wants and needs and consulting with medical professionals to translate those stories and frustrations into design insights.
Feedback from users included the strain on wheelchair users, leading to arthritis, as well as a range of other medical and aesthetic considerations.
The design of the wheelchair comprises two made-to-measure elements – the seat and foot-bay – combined with a number of standard GO wheelchair components, both created using 3D-printing technology.
A body map of the user’s biometric information is taken and translated into 3D digital data, driving the personalised geometry of the user’s bespoke wheelchair. Then customisable components are used, allowing for the wheelchair to accurately fit the user’s body and disability to increase comfort, flexibility and support.
Layer has also designed an app to accompany the GO wheelchair, where users participate in the design process by specifying optional elements and colourways to fit a wider set of needs and desires. Once designed, users place the order via the GO app. The wheelchair can be manufactured and delivered in under two weeks, a substantial contrast to the 6-8 week lead time it can typically take for a customised wheelchair to be manufactured.
Benjamin Hubert, Director at Layer commented: “At Layer, we’re interested in understanding how people use and misuse the most important tools in their lives. 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.”
Phillip Hudson, Managing Director of Materialise, said: “We’re really excited to be working with Layer and Benjamin to bring the GO Wheelchair concept to life. It’s an excellent example of the use of 3D Printing to offer mass customisation and personalisation of products.”
LayerLAB is a new inhouse division of Layer that facilitates experimentation and research into the future of physical and digital products. The GO wheelchair will be launched during Clerkenwell Design Week (Tuesday 24 to Thursday 26 May 2016) as part of an exhibition of Layer’s recent work.
To find out more about Layer and the GO wheelchair, visit the website HERE