Ekso and 3D Systems has created the first 3D printed robotic exoskeleton suit. Exoskeleton suites are not exactly new but the convenience and exact manufacturing of a 3D printed suit would dramatically improve the usefulness. Other working prototypes of powered exoskeletons, including XOS by Sarcos, and HULC by Lockheed Martin (both meant for military use), have been constructed but have not yet been deployed in the field. Several companies have also created exosuits for medical use, including the HAL 5 by Cyberdyne Inc.
The Ekso-Suit was trialled and demonstrated by Amanda Boxtel, who was told by her doctor that she’d never walk again after a skiing accident in 1992. Robotic exoskeletons were once the stuff of sci-fi movies, bestowing their wearers with superhuman strength and speed. Though organizations like DARPA and Lockheed have been developing exoskeletons with human-enhancing military uses in mind, the technology has also proved of great benefit to the medical profession. Boxtel’s Ekso-Suit was created by first scanning her thighs, shins and spine to create a model from which the basic personalized exoskeleton could be 3D-printed. Ekso Bionics then provided mechanical actuators and controls that were integrated with the printed components. Boxtel demonstrated the hybrid exoskeleton at a Singularity University event in Budapest, Hungary.
For the Mech reference go to http://www.ign.com/wikis/mechwarrior-online/Battlemechs