Elysium Max Exoskeleton

Exoskeleton suit replica from the movie Elysium in Autodesk Inventor, 3D printed and investment cast out of Aluminum

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I wanted to create several exoskeletons for band members of my next (industrial metal) music project. I like the "hacked together" look of the exoskeleton worn in Elysium (2013) by Max Da Costa, so I chose to replicate that one.

See the original movie suit in action.

I designed and printed all of the parts, machined pistons on a metal lathe, and sewed a harness. Now I am working on casting all of the plastic parts out of Aluminum using the investment casting process.

The printable STLs are available here and on GitHub. See the assembly instructions if you want to put together one of your own. 

I often post videos of the metal casting process. Here's the latest one, shot with a virtual reality camera:

Standard Tesselated Geometry - 45.85 MB - 02/11/2017 at 18:56


Standard Tesselated Geometry - 222.93 kB - 02/11/2017 at 18:53


Standard Tesselated Geometry - 225.86 kB - 02/11/2017 at 18:53


Standard Tesselated Geometry - 220.59 kB - 02/11/2017 at 18:53


Standard Tesselated Geometry - 161.51 kB - 02/11/2017 at 18:53


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  • C

    Valeriy Novytskyy10/25/2018 at 05:48 0 comments

    I have some mixed news from my attempt this weekend. I got all the data, but the act of observing the temperature and filming combined with more trouble from my regulator caused a decline in casting quality. I suspect it mostly came down to metal that got too hot, thus absorbing more gas from the atmosphere. I also had to move the camera and take laser temp readings, so I didn't remove the mold from the kiln as quickly as last time, and didn't pour as quickly.

    First three attempts on the graph was me messing with camera and lights to try and raise "production values" so I left the crucible in the kiln for too long. The last attempt the crucible was in the kiln for about the right amount of time, but the kiln was over-fed by propane.

    This week I am sick, so next week I will retry all of this and hopefully have some video worth publishing. I took some time to setup lights, and the video quality was significantly better - next time I will already have that experience so I can setup lighting quickly and before doing anything important to the casting process.

  • Trying out USB temperature logger

    Valeriy Novytskyy10/13/2018 at 22:36 0 comments

    I got a USB temperature logger that works with my K-type thermocouple, so I can overlay a live temperature feed on my next metal casting video.

    Here's what the output text file looks like when opened in the app that comes with the logger:

    ...and this is the raw output. CSV with sample ordinal, date/time, temperature in F, high alarm, and serial number

  • Shell casting success

    Valeriy Novytskyy10/05/2018 at 06:01 0 comments

    Today I nailed down the shell casting process (with a great amount of help from The Home Foundry) I can use to finish off remaining parts.

    ...without pre-heating:

    ...with pre-heating:

  • First successful shell cast, with minor surface issues

    Valeriy Novytskyy09/04/2018 at 04:15 0 comments

    I followed advice on building more shell layers, pre-steaming the pressure cooker before putting in the shell, steaming for a short time (30 mins instead of 2 hours) and repairing cracks /adding another shell layer after vitrification. I have one final problem with a frozen surface in parts of the cast. Here's the video of this attempt:

    Here's the frozen effect. I poured at 950-970 and I skimmed a film of metal off the top, but it filmed over just as I was pouring.

  • Second iteration of sprue planning

    Valeriy Novytskyy08/05/2018 at 19:05 0 comments

    Another iteration of sprue planning for the chest pieces:

  • First dips

    Valeriy Novytskyy07/22/2018 at 23:31 0 comments

    The first attempt at shell casting with the two chest plates has started. Sprued wax model:

    First dip

    Already developing cracks in the fist layer - most likely because the slurry needs more water

    Second dip

  • Planning sprues

    Valeriy Novytskyy07/20/2018 at 19:58 0 comments

    Sprue planning for models to be cast using the shell casting process is more serious than with vacuum-assist casting, so I am performing at least two rounds of review with metal casting experts before proceeding:

  • Back to shell casting

    Valeriy Novytskyy07/20/2018 at 03:03 0 comments

    The last 7 parts cannot be cast using the jewelry process due to geometry that requires a very heavy custom flask and tons of investment. The weight of the finished piece makes it nearly impossible to manipulate fast enough to insert into a vacuum chamber and pour metal in 20 seconds, before shell-shock.

    I am going back to shell casting after some advice from The Home Foundry forums, and I will post a video after the first failed experiments.

  • Investment casting in VR

    Valeriy Novytskyy06/18/2018 at 05:17 0 comments

    Another 360 video of trying out the new vacuum chamber:

  • Pouring molds in VR

    Valeriy Novytskyy05/29/2018 at 01:50 0 comments

    I exported my first long 360 video with immersive effects, transitions and composited 3D renders:

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Dan DWRobotics wrote 07/29/2017 at 22:22 point

Very interesting project. I really enjoyed that film. Interesting to see that you are casting your own parts from aluminium. The actual casting part is really difficult, I know because I have tried it. Since you are putting in so much effort into making it from metal, are you not tempted to make some of mechanisms function like a real robotic exoskeleton? With assistive actuation and motors? great project, will follow with interest.

  Are you sure? yes | no

Liam Mason wrote 07/12/2017 at 14:16 point

What grade Aluminium did you cast it from? I'm intending to make my own exoskeleton design. However, I'm not sure on the best choice of Aluminium from the extensive variety available.

  Are you sure? yes | no

Valeriy Novytskyy wrote 07/12/2017 at 14:42 point

I am using this right here (closest to 356 alloy):

The quality is a lot better than you would expect - I originally bought this as practice stock, but then realized it's actually top-shelf casting stock sold cheaply :) I get as-cast surfaces that are literally polished with no further work required.

Lastly, I did consult with two mechanical engineers here at the hackerspace (one who works at Intel and one who works in a local machine shop), and they both pointed me to 356.

  Are you sure? yes | no

Liam Mason wrote 07/12/2017 at 14:47 point

Thank you for the help :)

  Are you sure? yes | no

Valeriy Novytskyy wrote 07/12/2017 at 19:20 point

You are casting, right? The alloy is completely different for CNC/machining, 6061.


  Are you sure? yes | no

Liam Mason wrote 07/13/2017 at 00:45 point

Ah right. No I haven't decided yet on whether I would cast or CNC/machine it out, while CNC is much more expensive I don't really have the appropriate tools/location to cast. 

  Are you sure? yes | no

Liam Mason wrote 07/13/2017 at 01:12 point

I've also been looking around for months but can't seem to find those type of pistons/hydraulics used in the joins of your exoskeleton. Is there a specific name or site I've missed? Or did you get those custom manufactured? 

  Are you sure? yes | no

Valeriy Novytskyy wrote 07/13/2017 at 03:53 point

I manufactured the pistons, see page 6 of my RPF build thread:

...through middle of page 7:

I don't regret learning how to use a metal lathe, but in retrospect this was the wrong decision for the project. Lathe was $500, tube stock I ordered was around $500 as well, and I spent 2.5 months, about 45 hours per week, machining until late night and coming home each day looking like a coal miner. Then I spent another $100 taking them to a painting plant not to mention I had to wake up in the middle of the night to make it back in time for work.

Knowing what I know now, I would say either low-tech them if you are going for appearance and use a convenient size of pipe (2 diff. diameters cut & inserted into each other), or post for help on a CAD forum to learn how to make drawings and submit them to a machine shop (and have them do high-detail matte/gloss indoor electro-coating). Price will likely be the same for machine shop as doing it yourself, BUT you get to spend all that time hanging out with friends instead of machining and crying :)

  Are you sure? yes | no

joe wrote 04/04/2017 at 15:10 point

So with these files being online.   I want to ask first.  Is this design an open source design.  I think it is amazing looking and would like to make one myself.  I  don't think i can come close to getting this level of detail.  Also this suit looks amazing!

  Are you sure? yes | no

Valeriy Novytskyy wrote 04/08/2017 at 15:22 point

Prop replicas are never completely open source, since Sony owns the right to the movie and all props (you are always a voicemail away from Cease and Desist). However, all the files have been created from scratch and a few parts differ from on-screen appearance (thus it's not an exact copy) so as long as nobody's crazy enough to sell it they will likely let it slide.

  Are you sure? yes | no wrote 02/26/2017 at 14:50 point

what 3D printer did you use

  Are you sure? yes | no

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