Tech Talk

The Iron Man Syndrome

You would agree with me that every time you watch the Iron Man movie, you fantasize that how you wish you could be iron man. Then it’s just about time when you finally realize that building that stuff is way out of your league and you give up the thought. Guess what, there are people like us, who have changed that thought into reality. Superhero fans would be glad to know that there have been incredible advancements towards building a similar suit or an arrangement. It’s called ‘Elysium Exoskeleton’. Just to clear off the air, similar suits have already been developed by universities and military, but until now, the technology was prohibitively expensive. Who knew that simple high school physics would pave a way to build your own Iron suit!  Now a US engineer called James Hobson has made this exoskeleton using scraps of metal. He recently uploaded a video on you tube demonstrating this exoskeleton by lifting a 78 kg breeze block barbell.

So, the exoskeleton consists of –

  1. Two metal arms
  2. Backpack frame
  3. Valve bank
  4. Compressor

The science behind it is based on simple physics principles including the concepts of pressure and electromagnetism. The arrangement consists of cylinders, which includes pistons and piston rods. When the valve is activated, high pressure air is pumped into the top section of the back cylinder and the bottom section of the front cylinders. So it pushes the back piston down and the front piston up. Thus the arm rotates about the pivoted point. When the pressure is released, the weight of whatever was lifted causes the pistons to reverse and go back to the way they started. There are flow control valves, which control the speed of arm, by adjusting the amount of air sucked into the cylinders.

Talking about the valve bank, it is nothing but a collection of valves. The valve used here is a 3/2 solenoid valve. The ‘3’ in that ‘3/2’ means, it has 3 ports. One port is connected to the high pressure air in the compressor, second is connected to the section of the cylinder that we want to be pressurized and the last one is left open to the air. The ‘2’ in the ‘3/2’ means it has 2 flow positions – high pressure air flow and outside air flow.

The valve bank also consists of a solenoid. When current flows through it, it behaves like an electromagnet and regulates the air flow between the above mentioned two flow positions.

So there you go people! Well, there isn’t a single way to build something similar to this. You would find variety of methods over internet. But nothing could be as simple as this. James also claims to lift double the weight with the addition of better air compressor and support for his legs. Hail James! Take a bow from the nerd fraternity over the world.

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Sarthak Mohapatra

Sarthak Mohapatra

An aspiring engineer cum teacher, who loves to sing, play instruments, write, drive and hangout.