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Development and design of the next generation wheelchair

A lot was at stake when Swedish company Etac faced the prospect of renewing its flagship product, the market leading Etac Cross wheelchair. It had to be modernised without risking its position in the market. An important goal was to encourage more people to use the wheelchair’s extensive setting options, together with the goals of a more efficient production process, longer service life, and improved environmental profile.


IndustryLife Science

CompetencesDesign & User ExperienceProduct Development


Correct seating position in a wheelchair is crucial. Incorrect, inadequate or complicated setting options not only make the wheelchair uncomfortable to sit in, but may also lead to injury. Etac created market leader Cross back in 1992. In 2012, the wheelchair was redesigned, and its popularity largely stems from its versatility. When the manufacturing tools for Cross were due to be replaced, Semcon was commissioned to modernise and improve the wheelchair.

Enhanced user-friendliness

The assignment presented a number of challenges. One of the most demanding was to enhance user-friendliness, to enable more people to adjust the wheelchair properly. This means the user has a better seating position, increased mobility and manoeuvrability, as well as being able to sit for longer. Since several people often use the same wheelchair, it’s even more important for the settings to be easy to adjust and understand. That this is difficult to achieve is primarily due to the limitations posed by specific requirements on the design of the wheelchair.

The power in combining skills

The close cooperation between Etac and Semcon was one of the project’s most important success factors. Etac’s product developers, production developers, marketers and purchasers have collaborated on the project through Semcon’s entire design process. This ensures that goals are achieved, and it includes visualisation, conceptualisation, design and implementation. In addition, the process offers a platform that enables optimum utilisation of all the skills required for such a complex project.

By combining competencies in Semcon Studios, we have helped Etac to achieve a higher level of user-friendliness and design for a very complex product.

– Patric Svensson, Semcon Design

A new market leader

The new Cross 6 has enjoyed very positive feedback from its users. Etac conducted a survey with clinicians, who most often make the end user settings, and this confirmed that it is easier to adjust. The survey responses are clear – clinicians found it easier to adjust and that this will allow them to make more settings than before. Despite the challenges to updating a product design that is so precisely specified, the Cross 6 has been given a new look with lighter and fewer parts. The environmental goals have also been achieved through increased service life, as well as paint and material choices. In addition, adaptations have ensured that the wheelchair can be recycled as efficiently as possible, which means that several of the wheelchair’s parts can be re-used to manufacture new ones.


  • Improved design – modernised and visually lighter
  • Enhanced user-friendliness – clearer and simpler settings
  • Improved environmental profile

Semcon’s delivery in the project:

  • Research and Visualisation
  • Idea and Concept development
  • Industrial design & CMF-design

Contact us

Patric Svensson, Semcon

Patric Svensson

Team Manager

Design & Digital Experience