Jackson Gordon, an industrial design student at Philadelphia University, has put his skills to good use by building his very own Batsuit.
The 21-year-old, from Wayne, Pennsylvania (pictured below modelling his suit), spent over five months creating the combat suit, which he says isn't bullet-proof, but can withstand punches, machetes and baseball bats.
Gordon told BuzzFeed News: "I've always been a Batman fan, and have made a Batman cosplay in the past based on the Nolan trilogy Batsuit."
That suit was made more for looks then function, and was a bit difficult to move in without offering much protection. A year after I completed that suit, I decided I wanted to make another one from my own design which was actually functional.
Before actually making the real suit, I did many (at least 10) prototypes of different parts for the suit to test out materials and sewing patterns. Once I was happy with those, I started making the real suit using the patterns I had decided on from the prototypes. I cut out the internal lining fabric, then added the foam padding, then a layer (or two depending on which part of the suit) of kevlar, then the top grey fabric.
After the individual pieces where completed, I sewed them together to form the suit. The external armored plates are made from 1/4" ABS sheets, which I designed a pattern for and then cut out using a scroll saw. These plates where then power sanded, and heated up with a heat gun to make them pliable. The chest and ab plating was then mounted to the suit, while the other armour remains removable.
"The helmet was the hardest part."
I made it by cutting and forming PVC sheets around a pair of sunglasses and adding and sanding away different epoxy putties and fillers to create the shape. Once I was happy with the shape, the helmet had to be molded so the finished piece would be durable. This took me a few tries but I made a two-part box to encase the helmet, then did several pourings of liquid silicone inside the box to create a perfect negative mold of the helmet. Then the helmet was removed, and the mold was used to cast a durable one-piece helmet out of polyurethane.
Eventually, it was time to start stress-testing the suit.
In the case of the armour, the testing included stab and slash testing from knives and a machete, impact testing from bats and fists, ability to form into the correct shapes, weight, and so on. The various foams I tried out received similar testing.
"After making the third prototype jacket, I let the guys in my dorm test out the suit for real with me wearing it and them throwing punches and kicks."
This is something I'm pretty used to from martial arts - I am a black belt in Shaolin Kung-fu - but not having to block the attacks and just letting them hit me with very little stress actually occurring to my body was pretty cool, very empowering in a way.I also wore this prototype during the stab tests to show the armoured plates could handle it. The finished suit received much of the same testing.
The finished suit and helmet weighs 25 pounds (11kg) in total, so the key question is: how practical is the Batsuit to wear?
Even though 25 pounds might sound like a lot, when you distribute that weight over your entire body, you barely notice it's there. It doesn't inhibit mobility, and it provides full body protection. It's relatively comfortable, it gets a bit warm but it doesn't chafe or cause irritation anywhere. It does slow down my movements ever so slightly, but what is lost in speed is gained in power due to the extra weight from the suit behind my strikes.
The main goal of the project was to show my understanding and ability to execute the design process in a given task, to be able to show an employer what I can do. It was to bolster my design portfolio. "On a personal note, I just really wanted to make another Batsuit, one that actually worked and something I can hang up and be genuinely proud of - and wouldn't fall apart while I was wearing it regardless of what I was doing.
This sort of suit can be useful in a lot of areas (i.e. motorcycle gear, security, stunt work, etc). It's an idea I'm currently entertaining, as it would be fun and good money. All I really want to do when I graduate is design. Design and fabrication, ideally in a R&D lab somewhere where I can always be working on new projects. I get bored doing the same thing for too long, so a job where what I'm making changes frequently would best suit me. I like to create things, whether they be Batsuits or cars, I simply enjoy the design process.