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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 liked the "hacked together" look of the exoskeleton worn in Elysium (2013) by Max Da Costa, so I chose to replicate that one.

I designed and printed all of the parts, re-cast them out of aluminum 356, machined pistons on a metal lathe, and sewed a harness. The project was completed fall 2019, and now I'm working on tweaks to make it more comfortable to wear, such as re-casting some key parts out of hard rubber.

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

My other projects: cyberpunk guitar and drumming robot.


The metal casting process:

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

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

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

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

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  • Almost done but paused for COVID

    Valeriy Novytskyy05/22/2020 at 23:13 0 comments

    Some progress shots from working on exo gloves and reinforcing various parts of the exoskeleton. Most of this work was done during the winter, and relatively minor work is still left to do. The project is on hold until the work space opens.

  • Reinforcing and repair

    Valeriy Novytskyy01/20/2020 at 07:39 0 comments

    Repairs after NW Wasteland Decompression party. Replaced plastic rod ends with steel ones from McMaster Carr, electrical wiring in the spine with bungee cords. Replacing finger connectors with elastic straps as well to make the suit appropriate for extended wear.

  • Completed, working out bugs

    Valeriy Novytskyy11/25/2019 at 16:20 0 comments

    I got to wear the suit to Wasteland Weekend afterparty (did not make it on time for Weekend itself):

  • Assembly happening now!

    Valeriy Novytskyy09/25/2019 at 15:56 4 comments

  • Painting

    Valeriy Novytskyy09/20/2019 at 06:36 0 comments

    This is the last week of painting, next I have assembly and tuning.

  • Done casting parts, onto finishing

    Valeriy Novytskyy08/09/2019 at 19:01 0 comments

    I finished casting all the required parts mid-July and moving onto finishing & painting. So far it's been a month of finishing all the cast parts by using metal filler and modeling primer to sand over imperfections, as well as using a rotary tool to clean up tiny details. I expect much less effort to be required for machined parts. No idea how much time painting will actually take after all the parts are primed & polished.

    In other news, I presented this project to high school students at the Pacific Northwest College of Arts:

    3D Printing to Metal Casting: Making of Elysium Exoskeleton Prop

  • Casting chest & shin plates

    Valeriy Novytskyy07/01/2019 at 15:03 0 comments

    This weekend I made a second attempt at casting chest & shin plates. For the next one I will use thin sprues in addition to thick sprues to prevent parts of the model from breaking off with the sprues.

    Wax parts before dipping to build shells around them:

    First attempt:

    Second attempt:

    Both put together, before cleanup:

    I will make another attempt at casting the chest plate to see if I can get it even cleaner, and then redo one of the shin plates before there wasn't 100% fill.

  • Exoskeleton chest plate 2-part mold

    Valeriy Novytskyy05/20/2019 at 22:21 0 comments

    The last mold required to finish this project! There are some optional parts left to make molds for that I might do if I have time left before the Wasteland Weekend.

  • 3D-printed shin guards re-cast out of rubber

    Valeriy Novytskyy05/14/2019 at 02:30 0 comments

    The past three weeks have been a living hell of trying to cast two large plastic parts with complex geometry and thin edges out of rubber. Today it ends!

    I used SmoothOn Brush-On 40 to make the mold and shore 70 hardness rubber along with a black pigment to cast the parts.

  • More parts cast, sheet metal order complete

    Valeriy Novytskyy04/19/2019 at 23:20 0 comments

    In the past 3 weeks I cast the remaining parts for the spine as well as shock plates/armor that will be attached to boots:

    Just before that I cast two extra parts I was missing before, a shoulder connector with some extreme detail and an unsightly hip connector. One of the parts here is repeated above.

    My sheet metal order of bent spine connectors and arm bracelets came in:

    I decided I might as well make those in 2mm stainless steel after prototyping with paper and cardboard:

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David Bunting wrote 09/29/2020 at 21:30 point

that is DUCKING AWESOME!!!!

  Are you sure? yes | no

hominidae wrote 05/25/2020 at 21:23 point

Cool project! I recently started a project that involves designing an electric 3kW forge that is intended to process a large volume of aluminum cans.

Would a desktop sized system for processing soda cans and outputting a continuous stream of similar sized ingots be useful this sort of application?

  Are you sure? yes | no

Valeriy Novytskyy wrote 05/25/2020 at 23:26 point

The metal stock I buy comes from high-purity aluminum from melted down engine blocks, further processed by de-gassing and de-drossing. I doubt soda cans would work - but if they did, you would need a cleaning mechanism installed on the way out that will add a gas tablet, remove the gas, and remove dross particles.

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hominidae wrote 05/26/2020 at 01:50 point

Interesting. Will do some reading on de-gassing. The drossing issue I am familiar with.

If you're interested, I've created a paste dump for links related to information related to recycling, and casting aluminum and copper to form aluminum bronze.

https://old.reddit.com/r/arcticmicrofactory

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Valeriy Novytskyy wrote 05/26/2020 at 04:13 point

My reply is based on what I learned on Alloy Avenue forums (seem to be offline currently) and what someone from my hackerspace told me. It seems to match the overall definition for 356 (lower impurities, higher strength). Makes sense that they wouldn't care about quality when making cans, but would care for car parts since they would get sued if the engines exploded all the time.

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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.

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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.

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

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

http://www.ebay.com/itm/ALUMINUM-INGOTS-43-lbs-26-to-30-ingots-Casting-alloy/182166261652

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.

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

Thank you for the help :)

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

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

See https://www.metalsupermarkets.com/7-things-consider-choosing-aluminum-grade/

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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. 

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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? 

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

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

https://www.therpf.com/showthread.php?t=212832&page=6

...through middle of page 7:

https://www.therpf.com/showthread.php?t=212832&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 :)

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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.

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ConsultingJoe.com wrote 02/26/2017 at 14:50 point

what 3D printer did you use

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