BMW has turned to 3D scanning and 3D printing technology to design lightweight, aerodynamic carbon fibre wheelchairs & custom 3D printed gloves for Team USA Paralympic athletes.

BMW’s Designworks set out to address the limitations of current racing wheelchairs using 3D scanning and 3D printing technology. The first step was to 3D scan the chairs, and analyse the scan data with CFD simulation software to see how they performed and where improvements could be made.

BMW’s designers have re-imagined the racing wheelchairs around three key principles: aerodynamics, a stiffer chassis, and customised seats for each athlete, in the same way that racing drivers have personalised seat fittings.

This led to the decision to switch from welded aluminium to carbon fibre as the primary material for the chairs.

The 3D scan data also allowed BMW’s designers to tailor each wheelchair to the athlete who will be using it, increasing athlete comfort and aiding effective energy transfer.

Finally, BMW also re-designed the athlete’s gloves. 3D scanning was used to precisely model the athletes hands, before customised racing gloves were 3D printed. The new gloves were lighter and more durable than the previous versions.

BMW hopes that their technology will help Team USA to gold this summer in Rio.

Images courtesy of BMW Designworks.