May 4, 2016 | By Tess

Many innovative people have used their knowledge of 3D design and 3D printing to help people around them. For instance, e-NABLE’s global network of maker volunteers is predicated on this exact purpose: of using 3D printing technologies to create usable and accessible prosthetic hands for disabled children. Now, the possibilities of 3D printing assistive devices seems to have gone one step further, as London-based design agency Layer has just unveiled its designs for a custom made 3D printed wheelchair.

As a design agency, Layer, which was founded by industrial designer Benjamin Hubert, has dedicated itself to making products that not only bridge the digital and the physical worlds, but also take human experience into account. According to the agency, their products are designed to improve the everyday, to give users a meaningful experience, and to cut back on environmental impacts. Considering this, it is no surprise that Hubert and his team have ventured into the realm of assistive devices, and have created a truly innovative wheelchair design.

Layer is set to unveil the prototype for the 3D printed Go Wheelchair at the upcoming Clerkenwell Design Week, which will take place later this month from May 24 to 26. As mentioned, the wheelchair will be customizable, as both its seat and foot bay will be made according to each user’s biometric data, which will be integrated into the wheelchair’s 3D model before being printed. Typically only athletic or specially designed one-of-a-kind wheelchairs use customization, so this approach could be a breakthrough in the wheelchair market.

Benjamin Hubert explains of the project, ”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. 3D printing for manufacture is the most appropriate and powerful technology available to capture each individual's unique body shape to enhance the form and format of a very necessary product and provide exceptional performance.”

The project, which took six months to develop, was a collaboration between the Layer design team, wheelchair users, and a number of medical professionals. Of course, in wanting to improve the lives of people in wheelchairs, input from people in wheelchairs was imperative. Among the concerns raised by them was the challenge of self-propelling their wheelchairs in wet conditions, which was addressed by Layer with the integration of light-weight carbon fiber spokes into the wheels. Additionally, the design team has created an innovative wheel surface which can be easily locked into custom-made gloves, increasing the safety of riding the wheelchair.

The Go Wheelchair, manufactured in collaboration with 3D printing service Materialise, is made from a number of materials. The seat, for instance is printed from a semi-transparent resin and a thermoplastic polyurethane plastic (TPU) to provide extra shock absorption. The foot bay, for its part, will be additively manufactured from a strong titanium material. Layer has also developed an app for the Go Wheelchair which will allow users to make special requests before purchasing, such as color palettes and optional elements. Once launched, the design agency says they can fill wheelchair orders from the app within two weeks.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



Maybe you also like:


Leave a comment:

Your Name:


Subscribe us to Feeds twitter facebook   

About provides the latest news about 3D printing technology and 3D printers. We are now seven years old and have around 1.5 million unique visitors per month.

News Archive