Introduction: Captains Birthday Shield

About: Nothing special about me. Just voiding warranties. Admin of and


it's my nephew's birthday soon and I really wanted to give him something homemade. Of course it has to look very cool and as real as possible. Or at least big and bright. The Captain America sign has always been something I wanted to make. Not wanted to have. Just make it. Good opportunity.

If you like the project, I would be happy about a vote in the "Make it Glow" contest.


  • jigsaw
  • cutting-plotter
  • 3M EC Film 1170
  • protection masking
  • classic bath silicon
  • superglue
  • 3D Printer and some gold lacquer ("schöner wohnen")
  • drilling machine with a "grinding mop" / brass brush attachment
  • some special solutions/tools in the next steps
  • round "Off the Shelf" aluminium sheets
  • controllable LED Stripes (ebay)

Step 1: Basic Thoughts

The whole sign is set up like a cake.

A wooden ring with LED band, an aluminium panel to which the wall bracket is attached, another wooden ring with LED band, another aluminium panel, a PLA spacer with LED band, a five-piece aluminium star, another five-piece aluminium star and finally the 18 in PLA. The letters are glued to the first aluminium board.

The letters and numbers should be removable. The LEDs should light to the beat of the music.
The suspension should be with only one screw.

All files added, to give you an idea. CorelDraw17, PDF, and Fusion360.


IronManOfWar2Ncv-E85l (not added, cause of copyright reasons).

Step 2: Woodrings

To find out how big the diameter of the rings has to be, we first have to test how far the LEDs light up.

Then we have to calculate at which point the band can be separated. From the determined values we can then determine the diameter. Since each band illuminates differently and the repetition is different, this process must be carried out individually.

I made the first ring from 4 parts. This was a bit easier to make and I didn't have a big piece of wood here anymore. Towards the bottom a piece has to be sawn out to leave room for the supply line.

Everything sawed with the jigsaw.

Step 3: Letters and Numbers

If you don't want any numbers or letters on the sign anyway, you can go straight on.

I have drawn the text in 2D in CorelDraw. Then I exported it as DXF and imported it into Fusion3D. From this 2D sketch I extruded the letters. The edges are provided with a chamfer of 50°. 3D printed on an Anycubic i3Mega with a standard PLA in white.

From the 2D sketch in CorelDraw I made the plot file for the red foil. Now comes the first disappointing part: the foil used here is very expensive. 3M 1170 EC film red. The biggest advantage is that it is very hard and firm. The surface does not adapt to the 3D print and therefore the surface is completely smooth at the end. It was plotted and placed on the letters. Then another standard film of the same size was placed on top of it. Now I could paint the edges with a gold varnish and the airbrush. After 12 hours of drying I removed the protective foil and got a perfect result.

I have tested many other methods. This was the simplest and also the one with the best results.

Step 4: Grinding Aluminium Sheets

The aluminium circles are blank signs from traffic-sign-makers. In Germany these are the standard traffic signs.

So if you don't want to cut them yourself, just ask a manufacturer for such signs. They have them on the shelf.

In order to get the special, polished look, I had to build myself a tool.
I used a flywheel of a very old sewing machine as a turntable. On it I screwed a piece of screen printing plate. On this plate was glued removable, double-sided glue. And then the board. The whole system was neatly fixed to a table. The grinding was quickly done with a cordless screwdriver and a grinding attachment. The brass brush as an attachment for the drilling machine delivered the best results. Just make sure the plate doesn't turn too fast.

Step 5: Colouring Aluminium Sheets

After the whole grinding process it had to be cleaned very well. You should always rub your bare hand over the surface to remove even the smallest dust particles.

The rings in red are again plotted from red EC film and blue EC film. To apply these is not easy.

But the result is fantastic. Even I with many years of professional experience could not apply the film 100% perfectly. But with all the shine and shimmer it doesn't stand out.

Here again I have made a few attempts. But in the end nothing looked better than the ECFilm.

Step 6: 2 Stars in Different Sizes

I don't own a CNC milling machine. But I wanted to recreate the look of the star as good as possible.

So I made one big and one small star out of 5 parts each. It was important to take a piece of aluminium without quirks and to make all parts out of the same piece. So I could use the look of the raw aluminum. The base pieces are all 100x200 mm. All individual pieces on the front side are fully laminated with protective foil. The backs are covered with stencil. And everything sawn with a jigsaw. The edges are slightly chamfered with the grinding machine. This gives a nice effect, because the light breaks again at the edges.

Step 7: Preparing Parts

In the end, almost everything gets glued. Accordingly, everything that is glued must also be sanded.

This makes assembly easy, but mistakes cannot be corrected.

The bottom panel requires 3 holes. In the middle to lead the cable through. And at the top, perpendicular to the middle, two holes for the wall bracket. The 420 mm panel needs only one hole in the middle. The PLA spacer needs a hole in the middle and a slot for the cable entry.

Instead of gluing, I had also thought about screwing. But even the photomontage didn't look good.

Step 8: Assembling: First Parts

I glued the first layer of wood/aluminium with silicone. Roughly marked to avoid slipping out of the radius it was done quickly.

You just have to watch where you're up and down. After the silicone has hardened, the first LED strips can be applied.
The supply line for the next level should already be soldered.

Before gluing the next level, be sure to screw the bracket tight.
Also here I used silicone to glue the second wooden ring onto the bottom aluminium board. After that you can directly attach the next LED strip to the middle ring. I fixed it with hot glue.

Before gluing the next level, be sure to screw the bracket tight.
Also here I used silicone to glue the second wooden ring onto the bottom aluminium board. After that you can directly attach the next LED strip to the middle ring. I fixed it with hot glue. Thread the supply line for the top level through the middle board, put the silicone on the middle ring and glue it. This is a bit difficult to work accurately.

Step 9: Assembling: Next Parts

Now we're on the third level. Here the PLA spacer with superglue comes onto the blue EC film.
The LED tape can then be attached immediately. As expected, the star is more difficult to glue. Put all 5 large parts together and fix them on top with adhesive tape.

So that everything becomes horizontal, I hung the sign on a cabinet and prefabricated the star from paper.

Take a deep breath, equip the PLA with superglue and stick on the star.

I glued the smaller parts of the star onto the big star with double-sided glue.

Step 10: Personalize

Who only wants to build the sign as a wall light, is already finished.

For the personalization the 3D letters are now due. In order not to spoil the positioning, I have plotted foils as register. The letters are fixed with Tesa Power Strips. If my nephew gets tired of the letters at some point, he can remove them without a trace.

Step 11: Final Thoughts and Much More Pictures

The LEDs could be manufactured completely by yourself and made cooler accordingly. Just search youtube for "cine-lights". The whole construction has become relatively high. I could have saved about half the height with other LEDs.

Instead of using ECFilm, you could also tape and paint. Then you should use a glaze to get the effect.
You could also use 3D-printed parts as spacers and LED holders.

The aluminium cannot be replaced without completely changing the look. Effect foil simply doesn't bring it across.

Was fun to build. Some things had to be build twice to get what i had in mind.

Thank you for reading (and maybe for voting),


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