Disrupt Disability are giving wheelchair users more choice over the form and function of their wheelchairs. - Born out of a series of hackathons that brought wheelchair users, designers, engineers and artists together in maker-spaces, Disrupt Disability are using parametric design, digital fabrication and distributed manufacture to transform the way that wheelchairs are made. They have developed a modular system based on a central hub with standardized connectors. This enables wheelchair parts to be designed by different people and made in different places, and yet still fit together. Their modular system also allows wheelchair users to swap in and out different wheelchair parts to suit what they are wearing or doing.
One of the first parts they made was a 3D printed caster fork for the front wheels of a wheelchair. They designed it in response to a real life challenge. A hackathon participant had broken her caster fork while on holiday abroad. When she contacted the manufacturer to order a replacement, she was told that it would take over a week to arrive and would be expensive to ship. But how was she supposed to manage without her wheelchair for a week?
Their 3D printed caster fork can be adapted in seconds to suit different wheel sizes and can be printed in any colour. Initially their design took 12 hours to print. We helped reduce the print time down to 3 hours and made the part even stronger. The best bit? It can be made anywhere in the world by anyone who has access to a 3D printer for less than £30.