Technology

SUPERSTAR: The World’s Lightest Wheelchair Made From Graphene

Kuschall Superstar

Kuschall launches its vision for the Superstar- the world’s first graphene wheelchair.

Industrial designer Andre Fangueiro and now project leader at Küschall for new developments has joined the Invacare company to redefine the rules of wheelchairs, by utilizing aerospace materials and working in partnership with formula 1 manufacturers to secure the most unprecedented and ultimate driving performance available on the market today.

The Superstar team are industry pioneers, making advancements in the wheelchair market through their development of the first lightweight wheelchair made from Graphene. Kuschall are revolutionizing the performance of contemporary wheelchairs with a frame that is 30% lighter and 20% stronger compared to classic carbon wheelchairs, making the superstar truly unique.

The Superstar wheelchair aims to offer the most innovative wheelchair to date by using space-age materials, cutting edge development technology and a new approach to bio-mechanics with its direct drive and biomechanical assessment.

SUPERSTAR at a glance:

  • Ultralight yet immensely though.
  • Outstanding vibration and absorption capacity.
  • High mechanical resistance and durability.
  • New X-shape geometry provides an increase in performance and agility.
  • Correct posture to maximize your propelling performance.
  • Best weight to acceleration performance.
  • Perfect fit of geometry and seat for you.
  • Bespoke backrest with a tool-less adjustment.
  • Fully integrated seat cushion and backrest.

Kuschall Superstar

How did this collaboration come about?

Ralf Ledda, Senior Vice President & General Manager of Invacare EMEA, challenged a multi-disciplinary team lead by Andre Fangueiro to come up with the best performing active wheelchair possible, combined with a special social status.

Together with graphene specialist a tight-knit collaboration was established, researching the possibilities of utilizing graphene and exploring the added advantages. Initial experiments made it clear that we literally had something very special in our hands and we could produce a ground-breaking product.

How would you describe the Superstar to someone new?

In a nutshell:  the Superstar is the most innovative, best performing wheelchair that technology can produce at this moment in time.

  • Space-age materials
    • Making a vision a reality, the Kuschall Superstar will be the first wheelchair built with the toughest aerospace material possible: Graphene!
  • Direct Drive
    • Superstar is being designed to enhance a direct drive, by correctly positioning our users in optimal position, increasing the propelling performance and reduce the risk of injury upper body extremities.
  • Perfect Fit
    • Hand built and adapted to your needs.

Kuschall Superstar

How did you decide on the design of the product?

The evaluation of the frame and development of the shape started with the definition of the target group and an in-depth analysis of current gaps in the market were the product would seamlessly fit. In parallel to the analysis and interviewing our end-users we started building first CAD (computer aided drawings) and using FEM finite element method (is a numerical method for solving problems of engineering and mathematical physics.) Based on the inputs, trials and design thinking we could run several topology exercises until we finally predicted that the (Patent Pendent) X-Shape frame would be the most performing and suitable frame type.

Thinking of the delicate balance of beautiful aesthetics and mechanical capability, the term “Performant Tension” started to emerge out of the sketching page. This concept formula allows us to showcase technological capability through the acceleration and tension of the surfaces transforming the wheelchair from a medical into a product/automotive product.

The contours of the Superstar, the iconic side and front profile embody a certain feeling of

timeless and technological capability through the constant acceleration and tension of the surface. The Superstar is timeless without being dull or traditional.

Kuschall Superstar

Who do you envision using the product?

When designing this product, I wanted to ensure to design a minimalistic object that would appeal to both female and male consumers but at the same time be out of the ordinary as we wanted to challenge both ourselves and our Superstar users. We envision them to be the explorers and globetrotters that have a passion to discover new and special things. They like to explore and get the best out of their lifestyle.

How does it work, how can you get a Superstar?

The Superstar isn’t just a pretty wheelchair – this compact, but state-of-the-art wheelchair is at this moment in preproduction and we are inviting a limited number of interested consumers to come join us at Witterswil, Switzerland* and co-develop the Küschall Superstar.
They can meet the engineers and work first hand with them on developing the most innovative wheelchair on the market and experience a factory tour and also meet the Invacare team. All expenses covered for the journey will be taken care of by Küschall.

Limited spaces are available, so interested parties need to secure their spot fast.

When we move to full production the ordering is very simple and will only require 5 steps.

  1. The consumer starts by visiting us at Küschall HQ in Basel, Switzerland. Here we begin with a bio-mechanical assessment and personalized measurement, ensuring the wheelchair and components fit their needs.
  2. They are able to pre-select components and work closely with our aesthetic design team to create the wheelchair that truly reflects their personality.
  3. Our occupational therapy will run through the wish list of components and assist in choosing the right build for the consumers budget and riding style.
  4. Production of the wheelchair and seating begins. The special carbon molds we use are unique to us, located in a completely clean room, hermetically-sealed from outside elements.
  5. When product is finished we ship the wheelchair to the user location.

“We want people to have a better service by ensuring they have the right fit and biomechanics analysis, ensuring that they have the ultimate product for them, and also providing them with the best experience”- Andre Fangueiro

After our market research we have noticed that staggering 50-70% of wheelchair users will end up with upper extremity injuries after 10-15 years…The Küschall Superstar is being designed to enhance a direct drive, by positioning the consumer in the optimal position, we will increase propelling efficiency and reduce the risk of upper body extremities in the future. The Superstar will provide an increased agility and drive due to the new responsive geometry. Providing the best weight (1.5kg frame) to acceleration performance, the Superstar will truly be a wonder to drive.

Was this your first experience of designing a product that uses graphene?

This was indeed the first time we designed a product that uses graphene and I truly believe that this technology unlocks the future for wheelchair mobility. Having tried, tested and experienced it myself I believe it is going to revolutionize the way we look at wheelchairs.

What are the next steps with this product?

Right now we are working on starting our pilot program for co-development with a selected group of consumers and we are already preparing our launch. We will keep you posted on them.

When will it be available to buy?

The co-development campaign has launched and we expect that the product will be available to buy in 2020. People can sign up at the www.kuschallsuperstar.com website to get informed about and follow the launch. 

Andre Fangueiro

Advanced Development Innovation Team Leader

Kuschall