Folding Projects in the Mechanical Engineering Department
The Head of the Development and Product Design Track, Avihai Shurin, posed a challenging goal for third-year mechanical engineering students at the Ashdod campus - ”to develop a folding product that can be carried by a team and virtually controlled from a distance. The students rose up to the challenge with their interesting developments, including a stretcher for rapid evacuation and a field wheelchair.
Shimi Bashan, Gilboa Elkabtetz and Dor Ashkenazi chose to develop a folding stretcher with hinges that facilitates its opening and saves time when evacuating casualties. “Over the years we saw many kinds of stretchers – in the army, in Magen David Adom emergency services and in football fields – and we understood that there was a need to upgrade the existing stretchers”, they recounted. “The innovation in our stretcher is that it is built of aluminum and its parts can be replaced if needed in order to avoid wear and tear, thus extending the lifetime of the stretcher compared to those available today”. Another advantage, they note, is the ease of opening the stretcher, which spreads out like a rug and its hinges then lock. “Each hinge can turn 90 degrees, and when the hinges open, they lock until they are released by pressing a button in-built into the stretcher”.
Students in the Product Planning and Design track prepare for their final project as early as their second year of studies. “Each semester we have to prepare a large project. In this specific course we did not have to present a physical outcome because of the constraints of the current period – which made the project all the more challenging. Despite the circumstances, we presented a well-planned project by Zoom to the lecturers and advisors that accompanied the course, which we’re sure we will develop going forward”.
“The course was fascinating and we learned a great deal in preparation for the last year of our studies”, recounted Ran Cohen (27), who together with his fellow students, Daniel Kogonovsky, Dmitri Vlagin and Gal Oiring, developed a field wheelchair as part of the course.
“Our goal was to give users the autonomy that would enable them to easily work and move in field areas”, recounted Cohen. “Based on the topic we chose to focus on – access for persons with a disability, we considered what was lacking in the market and discovered that the price of products that help persons with a disability use a wheelchair in the field is about $2,500. That is why we developed a folding product that can be carried and used in the field, at a lower price”. According to Cohen, the fact that the wheelchair does not have a motor saves about NIS 2,000, and if the product will be placed on the market the price for the customer will only be about NIS 1,000.
The innovative product attaches with a “click” to the wheelchair’s original wheels, with the help of another person. This is a folding addition built of two pairs of field wheels that are attached using folding metal rods, and owing to their unique structure are easy to install. This product gives the wheelchair more stability, less rocking when moving in the field, has shock absorbers and saves the chair’s existing wheels from wear and tear.
“Although we face another significant and challenging year in our studies, we are sure that we will ultimately turn the vision of our project into a strong product on the market in the not so distant future”, summarizes Cohen.