Kinda feels like 3-D printing has been around a while, doesn’t it? Truth is, this tech is still in its infancy, at least relatively speaking. Design, science, art, manufacturing—they’ve all just scratched the surface of what’s possible. Case in point: The incredible piece pictured above. It’s called GO, and it’s the world's first 3D-printed consumer wheelchair.
The project is a collaborative effort, a two-year-long endeavor by London design studio Layer, its research subsidiary, LayerLAB, and 3D-printing outfit Materialise. The GO chair is a striking piece. Exotic, too: The wheel spokes are carbon fiber, the foot bay is titanium, and the seat’s printed using two materials (thermoplastic polyurethane for shock absorption, plus semi-transparent resin). But the big deal is customization.
Wheelchairs aren’t a one-size-fits all affair, and BMW doesn’t build prototypes for everybody. With 3-D printing, though, the GO seat (and future products of its ilk) can be tailored via biometric mapping, then manufactured. That means a custom backrest angle and height, seat curvature, footrest length and angle, as well as optional equipment like transfer bars, push bars, and wheel guards. Hell, users can even choose the pattern designs for their seat. Basically, the thing’s entirely bespoke.
The GO chair will on display in London for the Clerkenwell Design Week from May 24-26. Layer is currently seeking more partners to help distribute the product to market. Hope that the company finds those, because this is an important project. A 3-D printed wheelchair could be a game-changer for millions of folks.