Free Spirit Wheelchair
Marcus Cunnington relied on his illustrious background that includes experience as an aerospace technician to a stint in research and development on the Williams F1 team to come up with Free Spirit – touted to be the lightest manual rigid wheelchair in the world. Just how light is it? Well, it tips the scales at 6.3kg and features a carbon fiber composite design to achieve such a phenomenal weight. I suppose one can actually now lift wheelchairs when working out, replacing weights instead. The Free Spirit line is available via Marcus’ own company, Future Chairs, and customers will be able to choose from ‘standard’ and ‘ergo’ models.
Some of the high performance characteristics include lightness, rigidity, durability, and shock absorption, all which are made possible via carbon composites as these can be varied through different fiber angles, different plies, different ply thicknesses, and different combinations of materials. To the layman, this means the final product can specifically be tailored to precise specifications, achieving a customized degree of stiffness where steel, aluminum or titanium cannot. The Free Spirit range features an impressive stiffness to weight ratio of composites, where the 6061 and 7000 series aluminum used in some wheelchairs is approximately one-third as heavy as steel, one-third as stiff, and, at best, has around 80% the strength as the 4130 steel used in wheelchairs. Titanium itself is around 66% the weight of steel, one-half as stiff, and approximately 60% as strong as steel. Carbon fiber composite, on the other hand, is no more than 25% the weight of steel while maintaining its stiffness and is nearly 400% stronger in tension. Just in case you aren’t too good with figures, those are impressive readouts and basically mean it oozes with quality.
Free Spirit wheelchairs are now available in the UK, and Marcus has plans to release it in Ireland, Spain and Canada later this year.