Critical Factors For Wheelchair Technology Transfers To Developing Countries – Materials and Design Constraints

RESNA 28th Annual Conference - Atlanta, Georgia

Amy McNeal, Rory A. Cooper PhD, Jonathan Pearlman MSc

University of Pittsburgh, Human Engineering Research Laboratories
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania


An estimated 20-120 million people in developing countries need wheelchairs. One potential solution to this problem is to transfer wheelchair designs made in a developed country to a developing country where they can be mass-produced and distributed. Our laboratories, Human Engineering Research Laboratories (HERL), utilize this approach with Artificial Limb Manufacturing Company (ALIMCO) in India to improve the design of their mass-produced (15,000/yr) wheelchairs. An important factor related to successful transfer of wheelchair technology is compensation for material differences between different countries. We preformed standard engineering materials analysis to quantify the difference between the stiffness and failure properties of US and Indian low-carbon steel. in order to adjust designs being sent to an underdeveloped country accordingly. We found Indian steel to be significantly lower in strength than the low-carbon US 1020 steel.

Keywords: technology transfer; prototype; manufacturing; uniaxial tension tests

Amy McNeal
3408 Juliet St.
Pittsburgh, PA 15213