Motion Composites moves carbon fiber to mainstream

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Monday, April 23, 2018

QUEBEC CITY – Motion Composites, an ultra-light manual wheelchair manufacturer with 10 years under its belt in the Canadian and European markets, is ready to crack the U.S. market wide open.

The company is actively hiring agents and full-time reps in several states, says CEO and founder Eric Simoneau, who has been dubbed the “Steve Jobs of the manual wheelchair industry” by industry veteran Cody Verrett.

“We want to support 100% of the U.S. territory and that’s going to be the focus for the next few years,” Simoneau said.

Motion Composites has also been massively reinvesting in its R&D to expand its product line and design products targeted for the American market.  

The company grew out of a 2005 school project when Simoneau and co-founder David Gingras were attending college together. The two were passionate about carbon fiber composite material and looking for products to improve.

“When we realized that folding wheelchairs can weigh up to 45 pounds, it just didn’t make sense,” said Simoneau. “There was a huge technology gap between what’s possible to be made with composite material (and what is), and that was the idea behind Motion Composites.”

Simoneau and Gingras spent the next few years doing R&D and sold their first chair in 2008.

When asked why there aren’t more wheelchair manufacturers using carbon fiber, Simoneau says it’s a very complicated material compared to aluminum and titanium, which are traditionally used to make wheelchairs using well understood manufacturing techniques.

“With carbon fiber you need to think differently,” he said. “You need to do a lot of computer analysis, you need to design a mold and set your parts, and you need to think of ways to make your wheelchair fully adjustable and customizable.”

There’s also the misconception that carbon fiber is reserved for very active wheelchair users or to make racing wheelchairs for the Paralympics, says Simoneau, who expects that to change in time.

“I totally see composite materials becoming more and more mainstream,” he said. “The difference between a power and a manual wheelchair (will become) less and less in the future.”