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3M solution helps shape sporting wheelchairs of the future

20 October 2011

Great Britain’s wheelchair basketball team can be assured of optimum reliability in the wheelchairs in which they compete thanks to a novel solution from diversified technology company 3M.

Staffordshire-based RGK Wheelchairs designs and engineers a range of state-of the-art wheelchairs for both daily use and specialist sports, including basketball, tennis and sledge hockey.  RGK designs robust yet lightweight quality products to customers’ bespoke measurements.

An issue that the company was keen to address was the deformation of the titanium or steel bearing housings, which control the direction of the castor wheels, when they are welded to the main wheelchair frame.  The welding process was on occasion causing the housing to become misshapen and exceed the tight manufacturing tolerances – as low as 0.02mm.  This could potentially cause premature failure of the bearing which could itself become misshapen, resulting in substandard performance of the wheelchair. On these occasions, the housings had to be reworked, necessitating delays in production and additional cost.

The engineering team contacted 3M’s Industrial Adhesives & Tapes Division to see if the company’s technical specialists could provide a suitable adhesive to bond the bearing housing into the frame.

3M proposed the use of a specialist adhesive, 3M Scotch-Weld EPX Adhesive DP460, to secure a machined part into the bearing housing which would hold the bearings in place rather than relying on the main housing to do so – meaning any deformation as a result of the welding process was no longer an issue.

3M Scotch-Weld EPX Adhesive DP460 is a two-component gap filling epoxy adhesive, offering excellent heat and environmental resistance, which is designed for applications where toughness and high strength are required.

The use of this product has completely eliminated the need for rework plus the fact that the bearing performance is no longer affected by any deformation of the titanium or steel housing.

The new method is now being incorporated into RGK’s range of wheelchairs for children and will also be used in the wheelchairs for Great Britain’s wheelchair basketball team.

RGK is a sponsor of the Great Britain wheelchair basketball team and also supplied competitive wheelchairs to a number of other international teams.

Mike Sheen, Design Engineer at RGK, commented:  “The reworking of the tubes as a result of the welding process was something we were keen to eliminate.  Meanwhile, we were keen to take every opportunity to optimise product reliability and the 3M solution has contributed significantly to that as bearing performance is not affected by any distortion of the housing shape caused by welding.

“The 3M product has proved ideal for this application and we are now in conversation with 3M about using other products such as tapes and threadlockers.”

Mark Besant of 3M Industrial Adhesives & Tapes Division added:  “This application once again shows the versatility of 3M in being able to supply a product to deliver a high-strength bond almost irrespective of the substrates involved.

“We are now looking forward to a longer-term partnership with RGK using other products from the extensive 3M range.”

For further information on 3M’s range of tapes and adhesives, call 0870 60 800 50 or visit www.3M.co.uk/adhesives.

3M and Scotch-Weld are trademarks of 3M Company.

Sales Enquiries:
Tel: 0870 60 800 50
email: bondingsolutions.uk@mmm.com

Wyatt International
Contact: Luke Bull
Tel:  0121 454 8181
email: lbull@wyattinternational.com