Rex, the robotic exoskeleton

Worlds-first medical device that enables disabled individuals to walk

Rex was developed by a New Zealand start-up company called Rex Bionics which employed the latest robotic technologies in developing this pioneering life changing medical device.  Their creation was Rex, a world-first product that offers a genuine range of options not available anywhere else in the market.

Inventors Richard Little and Robert Irving, two Scottish engineers who emigrated to NZ in the early 1990s, came up with the idea several years ago.  With support from No 8 Ventures and TechNZ, Rex quickly grew in scope from an idea to become a real-life pair of robotic legs that enables you to stand up, walk, move sideways, turn around, go up and down steps as well as walk on flat hard surfaces including ramps and slopes.

Rex Bionics approached Formero to prototype the outer skin components which covered the mechanisms of the device. Formero’s team faced numerous prototyping challenges with cover’s that were highly complex containing moving parts, that needed to be aesthetically pleasing, highly accurate and waterproof.

Due to Rex's strength and durability requirements, Selective Laser Sintered (SLS) additively manufactured parts from Nylon 11 were selected for the covers of the Ankle, Knee, Leg and Hip joints. Secondary processes were also applied to improve the quality of the surface finish and overall appearance and SLS ColourFast procedure was utilised to achieve the desired colours. The method of production changed from SLS to Silicone Tooling and Vacuum Casting as the requirements grew from a couple of units to over seven at a time.

 “The Formero prototype team made it really easy for us to work with them."                   
Richard Little, Chief Technology Officer, Rex Bionics Ltd

Exoskeleton medical device has taken seven years of development work and is now capable of supporting the full weight of a person.  It is simple enough for disabled users to self-transfer in and out of and to operate the robotic legs a joystick and control pad are used.  Available now in New Zealand with an international launch  expected in 2011.

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 Rex enables wheelchair user Hayden
to now stand and walk