Monday, September 16th, 2013

Folding Wheels for Wheelchairs Feature Plastic Components

Plastics are often the heart of innovative products that bring a major benefit or advantage to a product’s user. This one increases the mobility of wheelchair users by making it easier to transport the chair.

Most wheelchairs are easily folded by lifting the front and back of the seat to compress the chair body from side to side. Footplates can be removed to make the chair easier to lift. The remaining problem has been how to stow two 24-inch diameter wheels into a plane’s overhead baggage compartment or the trunk or back seat of a small car.

The Morph Wheel folds to about half its 24-inch diameter.

The Morph Wheel folds to about half its 24-inch diameter for easy transportation. (Photo: Maddak Inc.)

Solution: The Morph Wheel shown in the photo on the left functions as a normal wheel when the chair is in use. When the time comes to transport the chair, the wheels are easily detached by means of a quick-release hub and the wheel then is folded to 12.5 inches wide by unlocking the metal spoke and squeezing the wheel.

The foldable wheel was originally conceptualized as a bicycle wheel by Duncan Fitzsimmons, a principal in Vitamins Design and Invention Studio (London, UK), when he was a grad student at London’s Royal College of Arts. The Morph Wheel for wheelchairs was developed following repeated requests from wheelchair users. The London Design Museum gave its 2013 Design of the Year Award in the transport category to the Morph Wheel.

On a wheelchair, the foldable Morph Wheel functions as a normal wheel.

On a wheelchair, the foldable Morph Wheel functions as a normal wheel. (Photo: Maddak Inc.)

Plastic materials dominate the wheel structure. The foldable structural components of the wheel are molded of glass-reinforced nylon (polyamide/PA) and the comfortable, foldable hand rim is made of polypropylene (PP). For its overall strength and resistance to the elements, GR nylon has long been used to make a variety of bicycle wheels.

The patented Morph Wheel is being manufactured and marketed by Maddak Inc. (Wayne, NJ), a leading supplier of a wide range of home healthcare and rehabilitation products for the senior, disability, and rehab markets. Morph Wheels were put on the market earlier this year.

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