With nearly one quarter of American seniors using some variation of a mobility device, the demand for a lighter and more convenient way to move becomes paramount for active seniors. There are several options that seniors use to increase their mobility. Some options include canes, scooters, and walkers. Walkers provide seniors with the most support when moving while still providing a significant level of mobility independence. Although the design of a walker has been around for ages,it is still very much flawed.
Basic wheeled walkers are great in providing aided maneuverability for the operator. However, basic walkers still have limitations on a person’s mobility. Many walkers on the market today are incapable of going over rough or uneven terrain while still maintaining the convenience of being lightweight and portable. Cheaper walkers on the market do not have wheels, which exert an extra burden on the operator. The Imperial Walkers seeks to incorporate these two types of walkers to create a lightweight, portable, all-terrain device that is both economic and easy to use. Although Imperial Walkers is entering a market that has long been established, they seek to create a better product for the local residents of Reno, Nevada. By creating a lightweight four-wheel walker that does not sacrifice the structural integrity, a major compromise that most companies tend to make. Imperial Walkers aims to do this by using 6061 Aluminum and a minimal material design to create a lightweight and compact four-wheeled walker.
Team 21A’s product, the modified four-wheel walker, is a part of the medical industry. The competition that Imperial Walkers currently faces are the companies such as Drive Medical, Drive Medical Fold-up, Hugo Portable, and Drive Medical Nitro and Medline, who are major distributors in the assisted walking devices market. Team 21 also has competition in different portions of the medical industry because assisted walking devices encompass a wide range of devices, such as rollators, canes, and scooters. The team researched into different walkers and rollators as well as how different consumers felt about the product. Although being a small company, Imperial Walkers, is able to focus on specific problems that previous walkers had, and is able to improve upon it to the satisfaction of the customers. Imperial Walker is mostly focussing on the folding aspect of the walker so that it would fit the average trunk space. The Average trunk space is calculated to be about 14.6 cubic feet and a majority of all walkers do not meet this criteria. Team 21 aims to reinvent a folding walker that is space efficient without the compromise of structural integrity. The group also focusses on the movement of the walker and how it travels on uneven terrain. The competition for assisted walking devices is incredibly competitive because Imperial Walkers is entering a market that has been around for centuries. On the contrary, the demand for assisted walking devices will always be relatively high because the ability to walk typically deteriorates proportionally with age. Imperial Walkers is still small company that is very new to the market, so Imperial Walkers aims to only distribute in the Reno, Nevada area until further notice.
Proof of Concept
The goal of Imperial Walkers is to create a new and innovative design on the decrepit design of the mobility aiding device that is known as the walker. The ability to walk typically deteriorates with the passing of time, and thus, the need for a mobility aiding device increases. A walker is typically the most efficient means of aiding mobility. Although the walker has been around for centuries and there will be no groundbreaking discoveries that will revolutionize the industry, there is still room for improvement. Imperial Walkers aims to tackle these improvements by creating a walker that is significantly more compact in stature, while still maintaining its structural integrity.
The design concept that Imperial Walkers decided to take for their design concept is similar to products that are currently offered in the market. The focus of the group is to ensure its users the capability to travel across uneven terrain. Imperial Walkers claims to implement this capability by creating wheels with a tread and are created with a material similar to that found on an automobile. By doing so, the walker will be able to travel over terrains that most other walkers cannot. The modified walker will also have a unique folding concept, similar to that of a lawn chair, that will fold in a much more compact manner than that of other walkers for easier storage and transportation. The walker will also have a fixed front braking system that will be operated by the brake handles, similar to that of comparable walkers. The back of the walker will also contain a braking mechanism. The braking mechanism in the rear tires, however, will be a wheel locking mechanism that will be operated via a step, similar to that of a baby stroller.
After running an analysis, the group discovered that after taking into consideration the maximum recommended weight for the walker, the maximum stress imposed onto the legs will be around 174 PSI. By taking the maximum stress into consideration as well as the stress to cause buckling given a specific material, Imperial Walkers conducted that by using Aluminum 6061-T6, the walker will not yield under any normal circumstance.
Upon completion of a fully functional prototype, the an individual will be able to receive support from the walker on uneven pavements, gravel, and most other terrains. Afterwards, that same individual will be able to fold their walker and store it in a location where other walkers are incapable.
Walkers have been used as assisted mobility devices for almost a century and are common in almost all households. Throughout the years, there have been many advancements and inventions to the already ancient device, but not many have attempted to make the device more compact in design without the compromise of structural integrity. Imperial Walkers aims to do just that, by creating a bi-folding walker that can be compacted into a quarter of its original size, while still maintaining the structural integrity similar to that of comparable walkers. Imperial Walkers will accomplish this by creating a walker with the folding capabilities similar to that of a camping chair. By creating a bi-folding walker that does not compromise structural integrity, consumers will be able to store the walker in places most walkers cannot be stored in. Imperial Walkers’ bi-folding walker will also be much easier to transport than conventional walkers because most walkers are incredibly clunky and unable to fit in certain cars. Some walkers do offer a folding mechanism of some sort, but even those walkers may not be able to fit into the trunk space of certain vehicles. By having a bi-folding system, Imperial Walkers’ product will be able to fit into more trunk spaces as compared to other walkers on the market.
Imperial Walkers’ modified four-wheeled walker will be able to withstand a maximum weight of 250lbs and shall be adjustable for users between the heights of 4’6” and 6’0”. The walker will also be able to provide the user a place to sit and stay stationary when sitting. Imperial Walkers will be implementing a two part braking system, in which, one part being brakes that will be activated via handles, while the second part will be a step locking type of braking, which will be used in order to keep the walker stationary while the user is sitting. The walker will also be able to cross over most all terrains where traditional walkers falter. The modified four-wheel walker will be able to accomplish this by having a wheel designed with a tread, while traditional walkers create their wheels out of a solid piece of plastic. Although the product has a lot to offer, the modified four-wheel walker must remain lightweight in design, while still maintaining its structural integrity. Imperial Walkers is able to do so by creating the frame out of 6063 Aluminum because it is both lightweight and sturdy. Taking all aspects of the modified four-wheel walker into consideration, the product is assumed to be expensive. On the contrary, Imperial Walkers aspires to do this all for under $100 per unit.
Imperial Walker is creating their walker model through designing it through SolidWorks and following the dimensions stated on the walker. After creating it in SolidWorks the group is creating different prototypes to make sure that their design can withstand the stated weight without losing its structural integrity.
Our first prototype we used PVC pipe that was cut to 30 inches. The reason the group decided to create their prototype through PVC to see if their folding design would have any complications. PVC is more affordable than the metal pieces the group is going to use for the final design and it would also be cheaper to repurchase if mistakes are to happen. If we used the actual metal pipes we will have to use a horizontal band saw instead of using a hand band saw. Then the group would have to grind out the edges, so members of the group won’t harm themselves in anyway when touching the pipes.
Creating the structure of the walker was simple using the tools provided in the manufacturing lab.The group used a heavy duty drill press to create ¼ inch holes where the hinge connector will connect to. For the fronts legs we drilled two holes in the front located 6 inches from the top and another one 15 inches below the other one. To connect both legs we drilled another two holes located 9 inches from top and another 15 inches from that hole. The outer holes be used to connect the front legs with the rear legs. After creating the overall structure of the material we had to create the hinges and the hinge connectors
Imperial Walkers created their own hinges by using the horizontal band saw to create 6 7.5×3.75 inches hinge connectors using the flat metal piece. After we had our 6 pieces we used the grinder to smooth out the edges and make sure the sizes of the connectors are even with one another. After the pieces cooled down after being grinded down the team used the drill press to create two ¼ inch holes parallel with each other on both sides.
To create the hinges for the folding mechanism of our walker the group decided to use the CNC mill to create more precise cuts. The group also is using spare metal parts found in the manufacturing lab to create this piece. If the team decided not to use the CNC mill the group would have to bend the metal sheet to the dimensions stated in SolidWorks and use the drill press to create the holes.
Testing and Results
1.1 Testing and Results
The prototype four-wheeled walker frame created by Imperial Walkers was tested for portability and durability with a series of different tests. To test for portability, the walker was folded and deployed multiple times by using the spreader hinges. This proved the frame was able to fold and unfold multiple times without fail by using spreader hinges on both sides, as well as the front of the walker. See the attached video as well as Figures 1, 2, 3, and 4 below. The main purpose of the design process was for Imperial Walkers to design a new frame that would be fold more compact than other conventional frames on the current market. This means that the maximum weight limit of the frame could not be tested at this time. The weight limit set by the sponsor, Life Care Center of Reno, of 250 lbs. could be achieved with further testing and more resources.
1.2 Expectations and Setbacks
The goal of Imperial Walkers is to create a lightweight, durable, and more portable alternative walker frame, as compared to those offered by other walker manufacturers. Throughout the testing process, the new walker frame has succeeded in being lightweight by using aluminum 3003 for the frame construction. This alloy is cost effective, moderately lightweight, and has a high weight tolerance making, it an ideal material for the walker frame. Although the maximum weight limit was not tested during this time, the material is projected to be able to handle the specified load. The implementation and use of spreader hinges allows the walker frame to be folded multiple times and be more compact than other walker frames as a result. The only set back as seen by Imperial Walkers was that they did not have enough time to go through another design and testing process to create a walker frame that is as portable as the one below, while still being able to handle the maximum load of 250 lbs. With additional time and resources, the walker frame could be modified to satisfy the maximum weight requirement.
1.3 Final Results
The modified four-wheeled walker frame proposed by Imperial Walkers is lightweight and durable enough to compete with other walker manufacturers while being more portable and easy to store than other walker frames. By having a more collapsable and compact walker, the user will have more storage space in the trunk of their car, closet, garage, or anywhere the walker frame can be stored. Many other walkers receive high scoring reviews with the only downsides being weight and size. Imperial Walkers’ frame has neither of these issues, making their product highly desirable, while still maintaining a reasonable price tag. With addition testing, time, and resources, the proposed walker frame design can be modified to handle a high maximum weight limit of at least 250 lbs. Imperial Walkers will be meeting with Jason and the Life Care Center of Reno in the near future to present the final design of the prototype.
Walker Frame Foldability Test Video
Meet the Team
Joshoua Sta.Ana was born in Quezon City, Philippines and moved to Las Vegas when he was five. He remained in Vegas until he went to college to study computer science at the University of Nevada, Reno. He changed his major from computer science to mechanical engineering during his sophomore year. His change in degree was due to the fact that he wanted to experience different fields of engineering. His interest grew during introductory courses that the program had. The most challenging project he faced during his collegiate career was creating an autonomous NXT robot that could accomplish certain tasks. The robot traveled through a “minefield” without tripping any mines and located a certain position under a time limit. His autonomous robot was able to make record breaking time and properly pinpoint all the mines. Some engineering skills that he has developed through his academic career is critically thinking and applying the engineering design process throughout numerous projects. Outside of school, Joshoua has accomplished many skills, including how to use laser engraving technology to complete various independent projects. Joshoua has used and applied analytical technical techniques to define problems and design solutions. His goal now is to graduate in Spring 2018 and go through Officer Training School to become an officer for the United States Air Force. He wishes to someday become a pilot or an engineer that works on developing and handling planes.
Victor Li is a fourth year Mechanical Engineering Major at the University of Nevada, Reno, who was born and raised in Nevada, Reno. His professional work in budgeting and leading fundraisers for his fraternity has expanded his confidence in leadership amongst his peers. By identifying key problems while using thoughtful thinking Victor was able to design and build a coop for chickens that was fully furnished for harsh winters and ventilated for summer heat With improvements in his networking abilities Victor plans to seek internships in the Reno area at corporations like Sierra Nevada Corporation or UPS and will hopefully put his foot through the door into major companies like Boeing or GE Aviation.
Andy Voong is a first generation, Chinese-American student studying mechanical engineering at the University of Nevada Reno. Born in Reno, Nevada, Voong left the city immediately after he was born, only to come back at the age of three years old to make it his place of residency to this date. Voong came up from humble beginnings, and has been striving toward success, even at a young age. Ranging from perfect attendance awards to being in the National Honor’s Society and graduating with Honors, Voong’s list of academic achievements bountiful. In his journey through college, there have been many challenges in becoming a mechanical engineer, but no other challenge protrudes more to him than the project in which he was required to design and fabricate a hovercraft. Although the actual fabrication of the hovercraft was relatively simple, Voong had to take on the role of the leader and take on most of the engineering when two of his five teammates decided to drop out of the project. Although the project has caused a great amount of stress and headache to Voong, he views it as a great learning experience because the hardest struggles are what define the person. Through all his engineering experience, Voong claims that his proudest engineering achievement outside work and school to be the time in which he designed and fabricated a home for his dog with power and heating by using the engineering methods. In terms of analytical techniques, Voong defined a problem, drafted a solution, created a prototype, and revised the dog house design to suit the needs and wants of Nikki. During his time in college, Voong aims to graduate college while still maintaining his sanity, but after completing college, Voong’s goals include finding a job that will sustain his family and his lifestyle.
Sam Preciado was born in Reno, Nevada and is the first of his family to pursue a degree in Mechanical Engineering. Sam’s academic achievements range from perfect attendance to graduating with honors. Throughout his college career, Sam has faced and overcame many obstacles. Designing and building a hovercraft and creating and programing autonomous NXT robots rank among Sam’s greatest achievements. Completing the ME 151 class all by himself, considering his teammates contributed very little, outranks everything else and stands as his greatest achievement in his entire college career. Since taking all of these courses, Sam has gained critical thinking and analytical skills. Sam has used skills such as his experience with computers and the Solidworks 3D modeling software when job shadowing at IGT and helping to create
models of new machines. After graduation, Sam hopes to find a job in the mechanical engineering field and maybe one day get his Master’s degree in mechanical engineering.
John Hicks is a senior at the University of Nevada Reno, John’s academic accomplishments range from completing enough engineering credits to start capstone and having enough math credits to qualify for a minor in math. The most challenging engineering project that John has been a part of goes back to when he was a part the club SAE Wolf Pack Racing which is an engineering club on campus that designs and builds different types of racing completion vehicles such as rock crawlers and formula-1 style racecars. During John’s time with the club he was part of the design and manufacturing team, which was responsible for creating the specifications for each vehicle and fabricating the final design into a working machine. The engineering skills that John has improved upon during his time at UNR have been his math and computer skills, which mainly involve SolidWorks and MatLab. One accomplishment John is proud of is when John used his experience from studying circuits to repair the electrical wiring for one of the ATV’s at his house. John used his knowledge of engineering to fix his neighbor’s fence when it collapsed, John was able to estimate the diameter of each fence post and the depth each post should be buried so the fence wouldn’t collapse again. John is a Nevada native who was born and raised in Reno; John’s goals now are to finish capstone and his last two semesters without damaging his GPA and being able to get an internship with Sierra Nevada Corporation, for the future John hopes to continue an engineering internship and eventually apply for a job that involves working with more fuel efficient cars that rely on both electric and internal combustion engines.
Imperial Walkers would like to take the time to acknowledge those who have been in close to the development of their product. The team consists of leader, Andy Voong, as well as all its equally as important members: Victor Li, Sam Preciado, John Hicks, and Josh Sta.ana. Each member is incredibly important in their own way and the team would not be able to function without the help of any one of its members. Imperial Walkers would not be able to do its product without its sponsor, The Life Care Center of Reno, where they provided a basis for the creation of the Modified Four-Wheel Walker. The main point of contact that Imperial Walkers had with The Life Care Center of Reno was Jason Sloan, who provided guidance throughout the creation of the Modified Four-Wheel Walker. Finally, the members of Imperial Walkers would like to acknowledge the establishment that brought the members together, The University of Nevada Reno. The students would have never been able to succeed in the creation of the Modified Four-Wheel Walker without the knowledge, funding, and countless support each member had received from the University of Nevada Reno.