Regular wheelchairs are more likely to make the user feel cramped and uncomfortable than newfangled wheelchairs that are usually lightweight and easy-to-maneuver. On the downside, these wheelchairs are oftentimes made using fragile materials that aren't long-lasting.
Striking a perfect balance between strength and maneuverability, Küschall has designed a wheelchair it insists is the world's lightest. The Switzerland-based wheelchair manufacturing company has made this wheelchair using graphene, which is known as the thinnest yet strongest material ever created.
Dubbed as 'Superstar,' the wheelchair weighs in at just 1.5kgs, making it easily portable. Aside from easy mobility, Küschall claims the frame of the Superstar wheelchair is comparatively stronger despite weighing less than other wheelchairs available in the market today.
The dependable strength and easy portability of the Superstar can be attributed to graphene - a material that was originally engineered back in 2004. The creators of this semimetal, which is defined as a "one-atom-thick layer of the layered mineral graphite," went on the win the Nobel Prize in Physics.
While talking to Dezeen, Küschall project leader for new developments André Fangueiro noted that graphene "is the strongest material ever tested," which makes it the world's toughest material.
Küschall chose to utilize graphene to make the Superstar wheelchair in order to remodel the efficiency of the standard wheelchair by employing a frame that weighs 30% less but is still 20% stronger than the regular carbon-fiber wheelchairs.
"Our goal was to design the best wheelchair in the world for the most active wheelchair users," Mr. Fangueiro added.
The company adopted a lay-up process to make the entire frame of the Superstar wheelchair. The process involves applying layers on to a mold and then moistening it with resin using hands. Thanks to its moderate weight, the Superstar will help people who use wheelchairs avoid serious injuries like arm fatigue.
According to Küschall, about 50-60% of regular wheelchair users are likely to end up with an upper-extremity condition. To further avoid any sort of injury, the company has smartly placed the wheels close to the user, giving them a more comfortable "direct drive" that enhances propulsion.
Moreover, the company describes the frame as a whopping 200 times more durable than steel and 10 times harder than diamond. Küschall is currently testing a perfectly working prototype of the Superstar wheelchair with users.
The Superstar will be custom-built for each user with a bespoke backrest after hitting the store shelves in the near future. Furthermore, users will be able to adjust their seating position as well.
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