US Paralympics have new wheelchairs for Rio 2016 created using cutting-edge 3D scanning and printing technology ©US Paralympics

The US Paralympics track and field team have new wheelchairs for Rio 2016, created using cutting-edge 3D scanning and printing technology.

BMW Designworks has collaborated with the team to design racing chairs which are custom-fitted to each athlete, to create a device that becomes an extension of the athlete's body.

DesignworksUSA, the creative consultancy for vehicle manufacturer BMW, implemented similar technology in 2014 when their bobsleigh design helped the US team take three medals at the Winter Olympics in Sochi.

The racing wheelchairs they designed this year aren’t visibly much different than chairs used in prior competitions, but scientific changes are both "subtle and huge at the same time".

Paralympic racer Josh George is seen using a new wheelchair in a promotional video.

The design process began with scanning an athlete in his wheelchair, allowing them to create a 3D computer version of competitors to simulate changes in aerodynamics during a race. 

This information meant they could reduce the effects of drag by around 15 per cent, simply by making minor changes to the wheelchair's exterior.

Each racer has a perfectly tailored wheelchair, created by a full body scan, made from carbon fibre which gives the frame more protection and absorbs shock better, instead of the usual aluminium body.

"It’s not necessarily a revolution for these guys, but you want to give them every little edge,” said DesignworksUSA associate director Brad Cracchiola in an interview with Fast Company.

“The comfort of your equipment, the repeat-ability - when you have that mould, you know how it’s going to feel every time. 

"And that’s one less thing for athletes to think about.”