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Alibre Designer's Lightweight Scooter Boosts Son's Mobility

There's plenty of motorized scooters to assist people who have mobility problems, but very few suit the needs of a 12-year-old boy. In this case, you may have better luck building your own, as Alan Anganes did for his son, Raymond.

"One of my sons has a neuro-muscular condition that makes it rather difficult for him to get around. If you look at him he does not appear that there is much wrong with him. He can get up and walk around. He can jump. But if he does it for very long he'll be wiped out the entire next day. He's able-bodied, but he doesn't have much endurance."

Raymond did have a non-motorized wheelchair, although propelling himself a good distance would wear him out too. "The design of wheelchairs operates on the assumption that the user has injured legs, but the upper body is fine," says Anganes. "That's not really our situation. And wheelchairs operate best on paved surfaces or hard floors. When you're 12 you want to go on the grass. We are outdoorsy types and like to do a lot of fishing and walks through the woods. We wanted him to have a motorized scooter than was rugged enough to take him to these sorts of places."

Motorized carts on the market also tend to favor smoother terrain -- malls and supermarkets -- rather than baseball diamonds and hiking trails. "That's coupled with the fact that most 12-year-olds don't want to drive around in what they perceive as an old lady's scooter. We wanted to put something together for him."

Anganes, a Massachusetts electrical engineer, had only limited experience in mechanical projects. He started by learning the basics of Alibre Design software and began building solid models of a three-wheeled bike assembly that would accommodate an electric motor.

"It was designed with a couple goals in mind. One of them was the off-road capability, and the other was to make it easily portable. We wanted it as lightweight as possible, so it's largely fabricated from aluminum stock. We also built it in such a way that it assembles essentially without fasteners. In a few seconds, you can disassemble it into smaller pieces. My wife could pick it up and put it in the trunk of her car. Most scooter models on the market tend to be large and heavy."

Anganes conceived the design as he went along, learning the modeler while piecing together the various functions of the assembly. "I found the software to be helpful because I could see how it worked before I started building. In the garage I have a fairly well equipped shop with lathes, a mill and a welder. This project didn't really require outsourced prototyping of parts; I would cut the stock myself according to the model dimensions. It did save us a lot of trial and error to work out the assembly problems on the computer first."

After some weeks of cutting and welding, it was time for a test drive. "The first version of the design actually worked surprisingly well," he says. "There were cosmetic adjustments that remained to be done, like dressing up the wiring and that sort of thing, but functionally and mechanically, everything worked just as we designed it."

Raymond immediately took to the new vehicle. "It has absolutely expanded his mobility," says Anganes. "The ability for him to just jump on the bike and move from place to place has been an enormous benefit."

The scooter project was Anganes' first Alibre project, but it was not initially why he bought the software. He wanted Raymond, who is home schooled, to work on the tutorials as part of his curriculum.

"Given my son's limitations, it's obvious he is not going to grow up and make a living as a laborer of any sort. He is going to have to learn to pay his way in life another way. Even if he doesn't become an engineer or CAD designer for a living, just learning something like this is a useful skill to have.

"When was talking to my customer service rep, Yulia Belogorskaya, while buying the software, I mentioned as an aside that this was one of my goals and she was nice enough to give us access to all the tutorial videos," says Anganes. "She has been a real pleasure to deal with and really worked hard to help me out. I sent her a couple of photos of Raymond wheeling around. She expressed great satisfaction at having been a part of it."

The project remains, he says, a work in progress, filled with a little more fine-tuning and maybe the addition of a few custom accessories. "Raymond has requested an iPod holder," Anganes laughs. "This we haven't quite gotten too yet."

About Alan Anganes Alan Anganes works as an electrical engineer in and lives in Dracut, Massachusetts. Contact him through

About Alibre, Inc.
Alibre is the leading global provider of cost effective professional grade mechanical CAD, CAM, and PDM solutions. Founded in 1997, Richardson, Texas-based Alibre is led by Chairman and CEO J. Paul Grayson (previously CEO of Micrografx) and other graphics visionaries who are changing the landscape of 3D mechanical CAD/CAM software. Alibre develops Alibre Design™ and Alibre CAM™, the fastest growing parametric CAD/CAM solutions on the market. A small fraction of the cost of comparable software, Alibre Design offers the same core features as SolidWorks, Pro/E, Inventor, and other mid-range solid modeling packages at a cost that is affordable to any business or individual. Alibre CAM extends Alibre Design to provide integrated 2 1/2 to 5 axis CNC machining. Used by an immensely diverse user base, Alibre Design and Alibre CAM provide design and manufacturing solutions to Fortune 500 companies, small businesses, consulting firms, machine shops, start-ups, hobbyists, inventors, teachers and students. Alibre products are distributed in 50 countries and in 15 languages. For more information on Alibre, or for a free trial of Alibre Design and Alibre CAM, please visit All trademarks and registered trademarks are the property of their respective owners.