Superstar is a graphene wheelchair that promises strength and lightness
Küschall says its 1.5-kilogram Superstar wheelchair frame is lighter and stronger than any other.
This is made possible by the introduction of graphene — an atom-thick, extra-tough material that was first engineered in 2004 and went on to win its creators the Nobel Prize in Physics.
“It is the strongest material ever tested, and therefore the strongest material known to mankind,” Küschall project leader for new developments André Fangueiro told Dezeen.
“Küschall decided to use graphene to revolutionise the performance of contemporary wheelchairs with a frame that is 30 per cent lighter and 20 per cent stronger compared to classic carbon-fibre wheelchairs.”
“Our goal was to design the best wheelchair in the world for the most active wheelchair users.”
Graphene is in the spotlight right now, with suggested uses ranging from “more pleasurable” condoms to night-vision contact lenses.
The material is a form of carbon, made up of a hexagonal lattice of carbon atoms.
The full frame of the Superstar wheelchair is made with graphene, using a lay-up process that means layers of it are applied onto a mould and then wet with resin by hand.
The light weight will help prevent arm fatigue and injury in wheelchair users — 50 to 70 per cent of whom currently end up with upper-extremity ailments, according to Küschall.
To further cut down on injury, the company has positioned the wheels close to the user, aiming to give them a “direct drive” that optimises propulsion.
The frame is also tough — Küschall describes it as 200 times stronger than steel and ten times tougher than a diamond.
Küschall is currently working with a fully functional prototype of the Superstar that it is testing with users.
Once it arrives on the market, the Superstar will be customised for each user with a bespoke backrest. Seating position can be adjusted as desired throughout the day.
Küschall was founded by Küschall Rainer, who became tetraplegic at 16 and, when he couldn’t find a job that could accommodate him, started his own wheelchair production company in 1978.
While it is the first company to build a wheelchair from graphene, others have used the material to make a warming jacket, stronger concrete and eco-friendly paint.