This post documents my first attempt at building the Arc Reactor from the Iron Man movies. Specifically, this is the MK1 Arc Reactor, the one that Tony Stark makes in the cave in the first movie. Out of all the different versions of the Arc Reactors in the four movies, this one is my favorite. It looks awesome, yes, but it also looks like Tony Stark actually built it, which is something that really can't be said for anything else he supposedly makes. Whereas his other versions and his suits look like the equivalent of Apple products, the MK1 Reactor has copper wire-coils, visible solder joints and screws, some irregularities, etc, all of which make it seem more realistic.
Anyways, the following events inspired me to do this project:

I was sort of at a loss for what to get my dad for his birthday. He always talks about wanting a mill or lathe for our garage workshop, but those are a little out of my price range. Recently I saw Iron Man 3 and realized that my dad is basically Tony Stark. First of all, my dad's name is Tony, and more importantly he also loves designing and building things in his personal workshop. Then I stumbled upon this amazing post by Instructables user Gordon Gekko. His replica of the Arc Reactor intrigued me so much that I wanted to make my own, and what better excuse to make one than for my dad's birthday! 

Gekko's replica is amazing. He used Inventor to make a model of the Arc Reactor that could be laser-cut out of standard thicknesses of plastic, and then all he had to do was paint and assemble the pieces. However, he didn't include a link to the model he used. So, with the help of pictures from Gekko's post and many other images I found online, I created my own SolidWorks model, again only designing parts that could be cut out of either 1/16, 1/8, or 1/4 inch thick acrylic.

Overall, this post has all the instruction and everything you need (minus a laser cutter, some paint, and some glue) to make your own arc-reactor!

I've attached several of the pictures I used as reference, a great SketchUp model from the Replica Prop Forum made by user Cad110, my SolidWorks model, and also 2D vector drawings from my model which can be sent directly to a laser cutter.

  • My SolidWorks Model (.3ds, .stl, .obj, .ply, solidworks)
  • 2D Vector Drawings (illustrator, .pdf, .eps, .svg)
  • Cad110's SketchUp Model 

Step 1: Design

Like I said, I used the images from Gekko's post and other pictures I found online as the concept art for the model I made. However, first I did some full-scale sketches to get all the dimensions to line up with each other. 

Once I drew the sketches, I used my calipers to take measurements right off of the drawings. This process took several hours because I had to do several different views/angles to get 3D dimensions for each part. Once I had all the dimensions, it only took about 3 hours in Solid Works to get the basic components made, and then another couple hours of tweaking to get everything to fit together nicely in an assembly. 

Make sure to note the part names in the last photo. I'll be using these to reference the different parts in the post.
<p>do you have the files available.</p>
<p>sorry i see the files but i will needd it in .dtd. also the files are not working. i tried opening the, in ilustrator but.</p>
Hi how much would it cost me if you 3D print me the bits for the Arc Reactor, my Email is seanfinch@hotmail.com
<p>HI. Congratulations for your built. It's quitte incredible.</p><p>I'd like to give it a try, but I have a few questions about dimensions. Th e laser cutting company I found here in Brussel use DXF files, and I see you provided some. But when I open them, I don't see any dimension specified. Should I provide the file and the dimension, or are the file already dimensionned ?</p><p>Thx for your help.</p>
<p>Hmm, the dimensions should be in there (even if they aren't explicitly marked). Can you open it in a program which has rulers or a dimension just to check?</p>
<p>Hi Sam.</p><p>I'm really interested by your tutorial :-)</p><p>I'd like to share the following link with you. Hope you'll find it interesting : http://www.therpf.com/f78/machined-iron-man-arc-reactor-86153/</p>
<p>Hi Sam,</p><p>Thk you for your answer. I think I understood my issue. I'm opening your files with viewers that are configured here to work in metric system. The laser cut companies I found close to my place want files in mm. I need to find a way to convert your files from inches to millimeters. But I don't have the softwares to edit, only viewers. Do you think you could just save your work again in millimeters and post them here for european propers ?</p><p>Thx again.</p>
<p>How do I download those files? Like what programs do I need exactly?</p>
<p>You dont need any special programs to download them, but you will need google SketchUp to view &quot;cad110's model&quot;, SolidWorks to view my model, and any PDF viewing program to look at the vector drawings. </p><p>If you want to edit the vector drawings you'll need something like illustrator or corel draw. </p><p>Hope this helps!</p>
<p>Super Awesome!!! Cheers ! :D</p>
my friend made a fairly simple arc reactor to go with his (also self-made) Iron Man costume for a party, but this one is incredibly in depth. And I thought SF fans were fussy about accuracy! <br> <br>But the big question is... did your Dad like it??
though it is thoroughly explained and i appreciate you for that but is there any easier way for laser cutting n parts like the outer casing ,the rim etc. to be made at home or more cheaply at some shop? <br>As i dont have that much money n resources to put. <br> <br>
Just as spokehedz said, using a small hand saw, drill, and file are about the only ways I know of to get shapes like these. One thing that will help is if you print off the files onto sticky-back paper, then stick them onto the acrylic you are working with, this way you have a guide for shaping each part.
A drill and a hand file will work, is cheap, but is a very labor intensive process.
Awesome. Love that you shared your files, too.
By far, one of the best instructables I have seen. Great job!
You made the arc reactor, I made the helmet :D Very nice job!
well done man, and thanks for sharing the files, that's realy cool!!!
Very nice :D keep up the good work!
Wow that's cool!
Absolutely amazing!

About This Instructable




Bio: I'm a senior at Harvey Mudd in Claremont California. This past summer I worked at Make Magazine. I love working out and eating well ... More »
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