During the Clerkenwell Design Week from 24 to 26 May 2016 in London, you could see the first wheelchair prototype printed in 3D, its name is “GO“. Produced by London society Layerdesign by Benjamin Hubert, after about 6 months of work a team consisting of technicians, specialists, doctors and disabled users has transformed the concept of wheelchair by moving the focus from the medical towards a more modern and custom point of view, a device molded to the individual’s needs.
3D printing allows various configurations for single user, adapting to the specific disabilities to overcome the concept of product standardization that most of the time is an obstacle in this kind of applications. The creation of the model starts with the end user body-mapping, so with a scan that detects weight, height, body size to study disability but also to propose a solution to the maximum usability and lightness. Layerdesign attempt was to eliminate all useless traditional wheelchair parts, using materials like titanium for the frame and lower support as guarantee of strength. Wheels have been designed considering the ease of maneuver even in wet conditions, thanks to carbon fiber rays and high-adhesion rims. The seat is made of semi-transparent plastic resin and thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) to ensure both a good aesthetic result and a safe damping effect, improving the comfort and in general reducing stress on the body often causes injuries and chronic arthritis in the limbs.Hubert says: “With the GO wheelchair, we saw the opportunity to make real headway in manual mobility for disabled users, and to use 3D printing technology to solve significant problems, capturing the unique body form each individual to improve ergonomics and provide outstanding performance“ .
If we also consider that GO is the first actual attempt aimed at mass production using 3D printing than in the past, then the result is already revolutionary.