Benjamin Hubert's 3D-printed wheelchair to launch during Clerkenwell Design Week
Clerkenwell Design Week 2016: Benjamin Hubert's London studio Layer has unveiled photographs and a movie of its made-to-measure, 3D-printed wheelchair, ahead of its launch next week.
The Go chair, which Hubert claims is the "world's first 3D-printed consumer wheelchair", will be presented at Layer's exhibition at 155 Clerkenwell from 24 to 26 May.
It is the result of a two-year project carried out by the studio's new research division, LayerLAB, and has been created in collaboration with 3D-printing company Materialise.
Described by Layer as a "tool to improve the quality of life of wheelchair users", the 3D-printed chair will feature a made-to-measure seat and foot bay.
Both of these customisable components are created by mapping the individual user's biometric information and inputting the data into 3D-printing software – something Layer says would be a "world first" for consumer wheelchairs that aren't developed for athletes or as one-off projects.
The seat is printed in two materials – a semi-transparent resin and thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) plastic that provides shock-absorption – while titanium will be used to construct the foot bay.
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Layer isn't the first design studio to investigate the idea of improving wheelchairs. British inventor Sam Pearce created a shock-absorbing wheel designed to help users negotiate uneven streets and rough terrain, while design studio Priestmangoode created a conceptual airline seat with a detachable wheelchair.
"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," said Hubert, who rebranded his studio as Layer last year to concentrate on more "human-focused" projects.
Layer worked with alongside wheelchair users and medical professionals to determine the main drawbacks of wheelchairs currently on the market. One of these was the strain and difficulty of self-propelling – particularly in wet conditions.
In response, the studio developed lightweight carbon-fibre spokes to fit inside the chair's wheels and a wheel surface that is designed to lock into custom-made gloves.
A prototype of the Go wheelchair will launch during Clerkenwell Design Week, which takes place this year from 24 to 26 May, with the aim of attracting interest from manufacturers that can help bring the product to market.