11/08/2005

DCA Design International

Design for mobility

- Redesign of a mobility scooter for the elderly or infirm
- Updated aesthetic to suit European market
- Development of an adjustable front and rear suspension system to suit a wide range of users
- Development of a new adjustable seat mechanism with a 90° left or right scooter dismount position
- Production of full scale, hand finished GRP cover panels for use as master reference data
- Batch production of cold cast rubber components to support prototype production

DCA were approached by Sunrise Medical to design their new, range topping Mobility Scooter to suit European aesthetic tastes. The new design was to incorporate new adjustment mechanisms for the seat and tiller (steering column) and a fully functional, variable suspension system to cater for a large range of users.

Initially, meetings were held with Sunrise to discuss and better understand their market position, their competitors’ products and the needs of their typical end users who would often be elderly, arthritic or suffering from a respiratory illness.

Competitors’ products were reviewed from a mechanical, ergonomic and aesthetic point of view and DCA visited specialist retailers of mobility equipment to understand how scooters would typically be displayed and sold.

This research work identified a number of desirable features that would offer a commercial advantage over the competitors’ products, including adjustable front and rear suspension and the provision of large on board storage areas.

The industrial design input on the project consisted of two elements. The first of these was an ergonomic review of the existing Sunrise and competitor scooters to define the spatial arrangement for mounting and dismounting, foot positions and inclinations when riding and the range of adjustability for the seat and controls for the new scooter. The second element was the design and production of the external panels. The panels were designed to suit the European market and reflect current automotive aesthetic trends whilst being easy to remove for battery access and other maintenance tasks.

DCA’s mechanical engineers designed new front and rear suspension systems, a tiller mechanism and a seat mechanism all of which could be easily adjusted by the user or by the retailer during purchase.

DCA generated all of the data necessary for Sunrise Medical’s in house prototyping facility to manufacture the metal fabricated parts. DCA were responsible for the production of the GRP cover panel mouldings, vacuum cast tiller gaiters and a cold cast silicone deck mat.

The assembled prototype scooter was tested by potential end users and retailers. The new aesthetic, the range of adjustment available to the end user and the fully functional suspension system were particularly well received during testing.

DCA continued to support the project following prototype approval by producing cover panel parts, gaiters and silicone mats on a call off basis whilst the manufacturer produced the manufacturing tooling. We also worked with Sunrise Medical to provide the necessary design data for the transfer of manufacture to the Far East.