Development of Prototype Structural Resin Wheelchair

Period of Performance: 06/10/1999 - 12/09/1999


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Turbo Wheelchair Company, Inc.
Beaufort, SC 29907
Principal Investigator


The Turbo WheelChair will demonstrate the feasibility of a new design that offers a significant departure from the design weaknesses and durability problems of the existing metal-frame chairs. Verification occurs when the prototype chair exceeds the ANSI/RESNA Performance Standard for Manual Wheelchairs. Turbo will be made from structural resins, molded into only seven unique components. The components are assembled with the patented "Interlocking Technique"(C) that holds the frame together WITHOUT screws or welds. Turbo avoids the "X-frame" common to most folding manual wheelchairs and eliminates the tubing welds and bolt holes at the "X" crossbar, which are common failure points in metal-frames. It folds side-to-side to 12" and yet has a solid seat that eliminates the inherently unstable sling seat. Turbo's chair will be lighter and stronger than its rehabilitation or lightweight manual competitors made with metal-frames. This project will support development of two prototype lightweight, low- cost, rehabilitation wheelchairs based on FEA modeling conducted for Turbo wheelchair by Allied-Signal, Inc. Allied- Signal assigned a materials specialist and a FEA engineer to optimize Turbo's design on their Cray supercomputer. The Turbo wheelchair will be economical to own and maintain with the features of expensive models; it will be sturdy, dependable transportation. PROPOSED COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS: According to industry data, US and Canadian wheeled mobility sales exceeded $700 Million in 1997, with manual chairs accounting for about one-half of total sales. A low-cost, manual rehabilitation wheelchair offering the maintenance and durability improvements predicted for the Turbo wheelchair could be expected to capture 10% of the market share in 5 years.