May 16, 2015 | By Simon

For those who saw the 2013 action and sci-fi thriller Elysium, perhaps one of the most memorable parts of the movie had little to do with the movie itself, but rather the exoskeleton suit that lead actor Matt Damon wears throughout while clashing with the antagonist, who is played by actress Jodie Foster.

The exoskeleton suit, which acts as a sort of automated body armor, augments his strength and speed while also helping him move while an illness becomes more debilitating over the course of the plot.  According to experts, this isn’t too different from how real-life exoskeletons work - such as the Human Universal Load Carrier (HULC).      

However as great as the exoskeletons might be for aiding in challenges such as scaling steep hills or climbing walls, they certainly aren’t cheap or easy to come by.  Of course - if you have access to a 3D printer - the next best thing is to 3D print your own exoskeleton.

This is exactly what Australian 3D printing enthusiast Alex Czech of 3D Print It has been doing to keep himself busy when he’s not tending to his day job in investor relations.  More specifically, Czech has been spending his free time designing a 3D printable exoskeleton hand based off of his own hand with the goal of extending that build into a complete exoskeleton body suit that can be 3d printed.  While the current prototype is primarily for fit and aesthetic testing, the next iteration of the design is set to include a DC motor for powered assistance not unlike the exoskeleton suit from Elysium.   

The 3D printed exoskeleton hand consists of 13 unique parts that include some that are printed multiple times.  The only non-3D printed materials are the screws that hold the 3D printed parts together and some metal washers that add additional strength to the 3D printed hand.

To fabricate the 3D printed hand, Czech used an Up Plus 2 3D printer with ABS filament (204 grams were used in total).  The total print time was 18 hours with an estimated material cost of $8.16.  The final weight of the 3D printed exoskeleton hand with metal screws and no additional attachments is 173 grams.

For those that are interested in creating their own 3D printed exoskeleton hand based off of Czech’s model, he has generously supplied all of the 13 necessary STL files on a Sellfy page for the project.  Included with the purchase is an in-depth instruction manual that covers how to optimally print each of the necessary components as well as create the final assembly with the screws and metal washers.  The design can even be further customized by adding multiple finger shields to increase the strength.     

Those who are interested in getting a head start on creating their own full-body 3D printed exoskeleton might want to consider starting with Czech’s 3D printed hand model to learn more about the process of printing and assembling the anatomically-correct components.  However if you do, don’t forget to donate what you can on his Sellfy page!  




Posted in 3D Printing Applications


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