Introduction: Easy 3D Printed Iron Man Glove

About: My name is Jack Defay and I am a student and a maker! Check out my work on Youtube @jackandbendefayrobotics | Thingiverse @jackdefay | Github @jackdefay

Have you ever wanted to be Iron Man?

If you clicked on this instructables the answer is obviously yes. By the end of this you will not only be able to wear the glove, you will also know exactly how it works. Although this project doesn't feature any new nanite tech, it should make for an epic costume piece or a solid starting point for some future Iron Man projects!

I'm trying out a slightly different way of writing this instructables, so please drop a comment if you have any suggestions!

Step 1: Materials

Short list:

  • 3D printer
  • Sandpaper
  • Spray paint
  • 4 LEDs
  • Some scrap wire
  • A 3v power source - I would suggest a watch battery/case or 2 AAA batteries/case
  • A box with some foam
  • Barbecue skewers
  • Soldering iron and stuff (helping hands, sponge, etc)

Other stuff I used:

  • A small file
  • Bare copper wire
  • Dremel rotary tool
  • A second, finer grit sandpaper
  • Hot glue gun
  • Scissors
  • I should have used a paint mask while sanding
  • Pliers
  • A glove to protect my hand while sanding with the Dremel
  • Compressed air can for cleaning computers - was helpful cleaning off the sanded parts
  • Electrical tape

Step 2: 3D Print!

This is the obvious major step in this build, and you're welcome to stop after this step. Especially if you print the glove in red filament, you could make a similar build for a lot less work, but it won't have as nice a finish or color. It should be fairly self explanatory, but here was my process:

  1. Find the model on thingiverse: I used the models here. Big shoutout to DaDave for compiling this epic suit of 3D printed Iron Man Armor! I only printed the main hand piece, fingers, and the center disk, but you're welcome to print even more of the armor!
  2. Tune your settings. This was a mistake I made, I didn't do enough testing before hand, and I ended up printing an insane number of supports on the main piece. These ended up being really annoying to remove later, so I would recommend doing some test prints first. This could be just printing the first few layers of the model, or printing a really small version.
  3. Print the main piece first. This was more of a personal preference, but it's definitely the coolest part, and the most time consuming. Once you find the time to print this, it's easy to print the other pieces individually in whatever small time slots you have.
  4. Buy a glove. I bought a cheap black running glove on amazon which worked great. You can try to find a red one, but I found the black to work great. Just make sure its made of a fabric/weave that won't fray or get caught on the print.
  5. Print the fingers several times. The print was tuned for the person who designed it, but everyone's hand is a little different. Be prepared to print the pieces several times to tune the sizes to your own hand. I found it really helpful to keep a personal log of the print scalings and how well they fit me. Here is my final scalings:
    1. Labled from thumb to pinky, base to tip
      Thumb 1 - 100 good
      Thumb 2 - 100 good
      Pointer 1 -100 just a tiny bit tight, good length
      Pointer 2 - 110 little long, but good width
      Pointer 3 - 110 little big, might be good glued on
      Middle 1 - 100 tight, good length --> 110
      Middle 2 - 110 good, little long
      Middle 3 - 110 little small --> 115
      Ring 1 - 100 little tight
      Ring 2 - 100 little tight
      Ring 3 - 110 very tight --> 120
      Pinky 1 - 100 good
      Pinky 2 - 100 tight --> 110
      Pinky 3 - 100 very tight --> 120

  6. Bear in mind that these prints will eventually be put on over a glove, so they should be loose if you place them on your hand alone. On the thingiverse, these finger pieces were all packaged together in one stl file. I used slic3r for my print, so I was simply able to "split" the model, and delete the parts I wasn't going to print on any given trial.
  7. As far as the repulsor center piece goes, I was honestly quite confused. I printed it standard scaling in clear PLA which came out great, but when I inserted the LED's I couldn't figure out how it was supposed to fit in the glove! As a quick fix, I used my dremel sander (I'll explain in more detail in the sanding step) to provide a bit more space, got creative with my circuit (I'll explain more about this in the wiring step), and in the end, just lowered my standards for how well it fit in the glove. I plan to rework this project in the future, and hope to totally redesign the center piece to actually fit. It's totally possible I just put it in backwards or something though, so let me know if you figure it out!

Step 3: Wiring: Beginner

Since I know people come to instructables with varying skill levels, I'm going to write this two ways: one wiring guide for someone who has never made a circuit before, and one for someone who is comfortable putting together simple circuits. If you want to try the latter, please skip to the next step, you can always come back.

If you're the kind of person who likes to understand what you're doing before you do it, I would suggest checking out some other online resources on the basics of circuits first. I would suggest looking at other instructables, YouTube and Sparkfun Learn to name a few. Try to get a grasp on things like electricity, circuits, leds, batteries, and parallel circuits. If you don't know a word I use in the instructions, look it up!

What I did here was construct a parallel circuit, wiring 4 leds to one 3v watch battery. I would suggest wiring up the 4 leds to the battery on a breadboard before assembling it in 3D.

  1. Place an led on the breadboard, the positive lead on one trace and the negative lead on another. A trace is the row of the breadboard that is electrically connected. The positive lead of an LED is the longer leg, the negative lead the shorter one.
  2. Then place 3 more leds "in parallel" to this first one, the positive leads on one row, and the negative leads on another.
  3. Plug two wires into the breadboard, a positive and a negative.
  4. Connect a 3v power supply to the breadboard. This could be the 3v watch battery if you have a holder that can plug in, it could be a 2 cell AA battery holder, which would provide a total of 3v, or it could be a bench power supply set to 3v, to name a few options.
  5. Then use the positive and negative leads that you connected in number 3. Plug the other end of these wires into the traces connected to the positive and negative leads of the battery. The plus should denote the positive side, but if you're not sure, the circuit will only work one way, so try both! It's not that important in a simple circuit like this, but it is good practice to plug in the negative lead first.
  6. The lights should turn on! If not, don't worry, I still plug things in wrong every day, so just review the previous steps carefully. If nothing seems wrong, you might have a bad component (I've found especially some breadboards can be really inconsistent) so try swapping out the parts!
  7. Next we want to connect a switch between the power lead of the battery and the power lead of the LED. Unplug the wire connecting the power lead of the battery and the power leads of the LEDs. Plug one lead of the switch into the "power rail," and the other(s) into adjacent rails. Finally, connect wire to trace of the other lead of the switch to complete the circuit.
  8. Flip the switch and the lights should turn on

And that's the circuit! Now we gotta reconstruct this circuit inside the 3D print :D

Here's the plan. We're going to create a sort of double loop design. The positive loop around the base, and an elevated negative loop. These loops will be constructed of bare copper wire, each one connected to its respective lead on the battery.

  1. Place the LEDs in the designated spaces, rotate so the positive loop is facing the "outside" face of the repulsor piece, and the negative lead is facing the "inside."
  2. Hot glue the LEDs in place. Don't go crazy, just enough glue to hold them in place. If you don't have hot glue, any sort of relatively clear drying glue should do the trick, but will take longer to dry.
  3. Bend positive leads around the disk, either clockwise or counter clockwise it doesn't really matter.
  4. Bend the negative leads inwards a bit, over the plastic piece.
  5. Measure and cut a length of copper wire to go around the disk. Bend it around the disk.
  6. Solder the positive leads of the LEDs to the copper wire loop. You can twist the leads around the wire if you want for a more secure hold, but just soldering them adjacent should do the trick.
  7. Then create a similar, slightly smaller copper wire loop for the negative ring.
  8. Bend the negative leads around the negative loop. You may want to twist it around several times for a secure hold later, but start by creating a tight "U" shape with the LED lead to hold the copper wire in place. Solder these 4 joints first to hold it in place, then you can either clip off the excess wire or twist it more times and solder. You should leave at least half a centimeter length between the two rings.
  9. You now have a completed circuit! At this point you should connect the power source you used to test the circuit earlier to the two rings to see if the lights turn on! If only some of them turn on, check your solder joints and make sure none of the wire has broken from the twisting. If none of them turn on, then you may have wired it backwards, in which case just reverse the polarity (switch the direction) of the battery!
  10. You may want to go back and glue the LEDs more securely now.
  11. Finally, connect a short length of copper wire to the battery leads. You want just enough to space out the battery from the repulsor, but a short enough length so that the battery remains hidden under the 3D printed pieces. I used more bare copper wire for this part, but in retrospect I would suggest using normal jumper wire.
  12. It's ok if it's messy! If it works, then you're all set, because all of your wiring will be hidden under the armor. Just be careful of short circuits, especially if you are using a more volatile battery than a watch or AA. If you're worried about the two sides touching, just throw some electrical tape on it. Not a good fix, but its better than a short.

And viola! You now have a wired up repulsor! If you made it through all that, you should be feeling a bit like Tony Stark, but just wait till you get to wear your creation!

Step 4: Wiring: Advanced

Although I think reading about how other people did things is really important, what's even more important is doing things yourself! So if you have a basic knowledge of circuits, then try this part by yourself. I'll first give you your "design criteria," and then a few hints. If you get stuck, you can always check out how I did it in the previous step.

Design Criteria:

  • 4 LEDs should light up.
  • The circuit should fit around the 3D printed part.
  • The whole thing should be compact enough to fit between the armor and the glove.


  • If you use blue LEDs, then you want a 3v power source.
  • Parallel or series circuit? Check out how and why the lights in your house are wired up...
  • I would suggest using some bare copper wire. Normal stranded, insulated jumper wire is usually great, but would take way longer to put together.

Step 5: Prep for Sanding and Paint

Warning: this step is boring. Feel free to skip it if you want, but I felt like I should address this part of my process. Before I got to all the sanding and painting, I planned out what I was going to do, and tested a few things out. Here's what I covered:

  • Before starting this project, I did some "background research" consisting of watching a bunch of videos about Iron Man Glove Builds on YouTube. Although this was a valid use of time in its own right, it also proved critical in influencing my design process. I found a particularly cool build series by Jairus of All that inspired the way I staged the parts for painting:
  • Inspired by the process in the video, I cut up some foam I had from a random delivery box, stuck them on barbeque skewers I found in a kitchen drawer, and set them up on the remaining foam in the box.
  • I tested out the paint color on a random 3D print. Although the can said the color would match the cap, I wanted to double check how the color would show up on the parts, and what the finish would feel like.
  • I tested out the way I was going to sand the parts, and how that interacted with the paint. To do this, I simply took one of finger pieces I had to reprint, sanded it, and painted it. This resulted in a good color, but a really rough surface. This test lead to my decision to sand with finer grit sandpaper on the final model.

Step 6: Sand!

This step took way more work than I was expecting and is fairly optional, but in my opinion it was totally worth it. Here's the bottom line:

  1. You have to clean up your prints a bit: smoothing out sharp parts, removing supports, cleaning up stringy parts.
  2. You really really really should rough up the general surface before painting to ensure a strong bond.

This is all that's really necessary. If you can't or don't want to put in the extra time, skip the rest of this step. If you want to get a better finish and a cleaner final product however, read on.

Finishing projects like this for me has been a bit of a journey in guess and check. I started modding nerf guns a few years ago, and got a few really good lessons on how not to paint plastic. Since then, I've read some things, tried some things, and gotten some pretty good results, but this is in no way final, so please let me know if you have any suggestions! Here's what I did:

  1. Clean up the print. I started with the main body piece, first removing the supports, brim, and stringy bits, and then going around with a small file cleaning up the corners and rough edges.
  2. Next I used my dremel rotary tool. I had this from a previous project, so it was convenient for me. You by no means have to use a fancy tool to sand, in fact I also used some sand paper by hand later on. use whatever tools you have available to you, and are comfortable using.
  3. Go through several grits. My dremel tool had 3 grits of sand paper: from course to fine. I went over then entire part with each grit. The final grit of my dremel wasn't as fine as I wanted for a smooth finish, so I then went back over with what I think was a 100 grit piece of sandpaper I had laying around.
  4. Just a note on safety - sanding, especially with a rotary tool releases particulate matter. At a bare minimum you should be sanding in an open or otherwise well ventilated space. I sanded on my deck, but I've also sanded in my garage with the door open. Using something like a paint mask can also help. And as always, wear safety glasses.
  5. A note on environmental safety - since I mentioned sanding outside, where it isn't really feasible to clean up with a shop vac, I did some research on PLA. PLA is the type of plastic that I used to 3D print, and is the most common material used, especially for beginners. It turns out, PLA is derived from corn, so is considered generally food safe and biodegradable. Although never a good idea to through plastic out in your backyard, it's totally fine to sand outside and leave the PLA dust.

Step 7: Paint! the Other Fun Part!

This is the step where you go from "built in a desert camp Iron Man glove" to "ready to fight Thanos Iron Man glove." Simply put, this is the step where we paint the plastic. There is a lot of room for creativity in this step, so feel free to add some gold highlights, do some stencil work, or anything else you want! I went for the classic red finish, but there's no need to stick to the classic color scheme. Here is my process:

  1. Buy some paint. I did some research to find the right paint color for this project. Specifically I looked up "color spray paint Iron Man" with some good results. Armed with a few color keywords, I grabbed a friend and went over to my local Ace Hardware. Their spray paint wall had a pretty good selection, so I just looked and all in one paint primer, or similar, and found a few that looked about right. I checked the price, compared the color on the caps to a picture of Iron Man on my phone, and asked my friend what they thought (critical step). Eventually I went with "cherry red" (
  2. Wait for good weather. Rather than testing fate on a day when it might rain, I waited a day or two until it was clear and sunny.
  3. Clean off the models. Use compressed air, blow off the dust from sanding, you could try wiping them down with a damp paper towel, just make sure the prints are fairly clean before painting.
  4. Set up. I had my entire assembly in one box, so it was easy to move. I set it up in my backyard over the grass so it wouldn't matter if I missed a bit with the spraypaint, and there wouldn't be too much dust if the wind picked up. I then secured the box with a few rocks so the flaps wouldn't blow over onto the parts.
  5. Shake the can and spray the box a bit. Get a feel for the trigger, the distance, how fast it colors, etc.
  6. Paint the parts! Now you're ready to start painting. Just remember to DO LIGHT COATS. I can't stress this enough. In past projects, I've painted it too heavy and it just started running and dried weird. It was fine, but for just a little more effort it can come out so much better.
  7. I went out and did about 6 thin coats at 30-60 minute intervals. This layering allowed the paint to adhere, prevented bubbles, lumps and drips. The strategy is basically to keep doing more coats until you get the color you want.
  8. Finally, if you're having trouble getting all the weird angles covered, just pick it up! Here's where the barbecue skewers really come in handy: pick up the parts one at a time by the skewer, hold at arms length, and spray the spots you missed.
  9. Set the parts back up and let them dry in the sun. I don't know if the sun helps but it seems like it should. After like two hours the sun went down so I brought the whole box back inside and set it in my basement. I wouldn't set it next to your bed or anything, but at this point it shouldn't smell as bad and should be fine to bring inside.
  10. My can said "dries after 30 min, can handle after 1 hour, fully sets in 6 hours" or something like that, so I left it overnight before trying it on. The next day I put the glove on and took some pictures!

Step 8: Next Steps...

For the sake of time this project ended up far simplified from what I originally planned. I plan to continue this project in the future, but I wanted to outline some of the next things I wanted to try for anyone who wants a more involved project:

  • Print the entire arm. What's cooler than and Iron Man glove? An Iron Man arm!
  • Add some sensor integration. I was thinking about how best to control the light, and I found this incredible little sensor on sparkfun called a "bend sensor." This sensor acts as a variable resistor based on how much it's bent, kind of like a potentiometer. Adafruit sells one too. I was planning to hook up the lights with a simple dimming circuit either analog or with an attiny85 microcontroller.
  • Overhaul the center disk piece. This part just didn't make any sense to me. I had to go out of my way to accommodate for it, so why not just design one that makes sense? it would also be nice to make a version for neopixel lights for more complex light behaviors.
  • Stick a laser on it. There are plenty of builds you can find online about balloon popping Iron Man laser gloves...and they're really cool!

And that's it! Thanks for reading through my instructables. As a great, totally not fictional, man once said: "Sometimes you gotta run before you can walk," so go become Iron Man!

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