Will 3D printed and customized seats for wheelchairs be the next new normal?

The introduction of new digital manufacturing technology to customize seats for wheelchairs may be the 3D printing news of the year.

Customized wheelchair seat

Besides moving away from the traditional heavy waste subtractive manufacturing, our 3D printing solution for customized seats also introduces remarkable features for the benefit of the user as well as a circular economy scheme.

Our solution allows for designing customized seats with gradient flexible zones, that enable the professional to define different hardnesses and 3D print in one workflow. Hence, you avoid time-consuming efforts in manual modification of the seat with different foam types. This will give the orthopedic workshop more time for the end user.

Great user benefits

For the end user of the seat cushion in the wheel chair, our solution provides advanced support and adds comfort. Our 3D-printed seats live up to all requirements, just like the traditionally crafted seats, and may add new value.

  • High comfort with different hardness zones with soft gradients to prevent pressure sores
  • Ergonomic armrest and spinal support
  • It provides good ventilation, is breathable
  • No moist absorption
  • Washable and hygienic

Furthermore, this solution supports the transition into a more sustainable way of manufacturing without generating a significant amount of waste.

Orthotics & Prosthetics print service

Get your seat, corset, socket, or cast 3D printed in top quality. We use your own custom design and meet your requirements for material, strength, quality, and functionality.

Patented solution for gradient between zones

The production of a 3D printed seat is made in several steps:

  • First, we need a 3D model to make the design file. Typically, the user needs the seat to support specific parts of the body. Often a vacuum bag is used to form a mold that fits the user perfectly . A 3D scanner then collects all the data points and details from the mold into a 3D model.
  • Second, the scanned 3D model is loaded into a CAD design tool where you can modify it to fit the wheelchair and enhance functionality by defining zones with different hardness. Thanks to our patented features, the transitions between zones are incorporated in the final 3D printed seat which makes it much more comfortable.
  • Finally, the seat is printed on a specially designed 3D printer made specifically for this purpose. The 3D printing technology is a simple-to-operate 3D FDM (fused deposition modeling) printer without requiring highly skilled crafting labor.

In the traditional crafting of customized wheelchair seats, the post-processing with additional carving and gluing on different foams to obtain varying hardness zones is a considerable labor-intensive and subtractive addition to the primary process.

With the 3D printing approach, we can remove the post-processing effort since there is no additional carving and gluing of different foams.

User-friendly CAM software

Start processing by importing the 3D models (from your cad software) as an stl file of the seat in our professional REALvision CAM 3D software. You can modify the parameters for printing the seat and change the hardness zones or infill types to optimize the final result before making the 3D print file.

  • Hardness mapping: Select from 3 options: SOFT, MEDIUM, FIRM
  • Advanced mode: lattice size, lattice structure, and apply hardness modifier
  • Print splitting: automatic plane split or manual adjustment of plane and position
  • Printing time and material consumption

Ready for the next step?​

Additive manufacturing is still young, but more and more businesses become aware that traditional production methods need alternatives. As a business partner, we help you create the right setup for your 3D printing program. We can start with a consultation or you can order a free sample and we take it from there.

Printed in flexible TPU material

We use 3D print filament made from flexible TPU (Thermoplastic polyurethane) material. These 3D printing materials will naturally comply with EN 1021-1 and EN 1021-2.

From a manufacturing point of view, using the printing process limits the waste to zero, and with a recycling scheme of the seat, the environmental footprint is reduced significantly compared to that of traditional foam seats.

Another advantage of using additive manufacturing technologies with melting plastic parts as infill is that it ensures a no-dust production environment. There is no hindrance to operating the 3D printing production in a standard office environment.

After printing, the wheelchair cushions are handled like in traditional crafting. The printed seat is breathable and ergonomically made from thermoplastics, which makes it hygienic, as fluids are easily cleaned up.

Unique 3D printer solution

Together with a partner, we provide the seat maker solution:

  • Embrace Seatmaker
  • Seating printer optimized for flexible TPU
  • Three-dimensional workspace:
    60cm x 60cm x 65cm
  • Material properties: Certified and approved TPU filament
  • Automatic spool change system
  • Printing time: approx. 2 days for the entire seat
  • Optional: white-labeled version of the 3D printing software

Short return of investment period

Traditional manufacturing with a robot carving machine requires significant upfront investment, whereas our 3D printing solution is attainable even for smaller O & P workshops making the return of investment period very short.

All you need to get started is 3D modeling software or an STL file, 3D printing software, the FDM printer and filament. Talk to us about how to start with actual production, where the process is replicable, traceable and validated. This solution is not for prototyping, but will take you to actual production once it is installed at your premises

Do you want to join the 3D printing revolution?​

We challenge the status quo, wasteful production processes, and traditional markets to adopt new materials and technologies. Mass customization is one of the most significant advantages of this technology, as it enables straightforward print service and production within a few days of delivery.

Many people still calculate 3D printing as a prototype technology for hobbyists. We invite you as a professional CPO, clinician, or orthopedic technician to join us in the 3D printing revolution by producing printed products such as the wheelchair seat rapidly, cost-effectively, and adding more value for the end user.