Introduction: Iron Man 4th Generation Arc Reactor


No one can really say no to the fascinating Mark suit since the movie swept across the globe. If you have ever watched the Iron Man comic books or one of the Iron Man movies you would have known that the power source of the Mark suit actually come from the arc reactor mounted on Tony Stark's chest. This tiny awesome stuff attracted me the first time I saw it on the movie screen, so I decided to make one for myself. Of course I did not mean to make a real one, that's unachievable for the present technology, and also I am not as rich as Tony Stark XD. But still, I think a fabricated one made with some LEDs would be cool enough for costumes or decorations on the desk. As you can see from the picture above, I started with the 4th generation arc reactor, the latest version in the Iron Man 3. Not bad, ha? I've programmed three different light effect: normal, flashing and breathing. The parts and the tools you would need are all lised below, get everything ready and you are good to go.


Electronic Components


  • 3D printer
  • Flush diagonal cutter
  • Wire stripper
  • Soldering iron & solder


In fact, before I start making my arc reactor, I watched some tutorial on the internet posted by others. most of them chose the ways to place the LEDs directly on a round board made with a cut CD box, a cut paperboard, or even easier, with a lid from a Walkers' box (chips' box).

As a newbie, I think this is a relatively easy way to realize the illuminating part, so I used the 3D printer to print out a round board and stick all the LEDs on the top of it with a glue gun. As for the pattern it was made with laser cut acrylic and spray painted with silvery paint. You can see my handy works here XD.

Ha... does someone want to punch on my face? Please don't, cause I already did it to myself, and hmmmm, that really hurts .

I knew it looks awful, that's why I discarded it right away. : (


If the ugly looking arc reactor I've made in the step one is regarded as the version I, then I think the one I am about to introduce should be the Version II of it.

As we can see in the previous images, the painted acrylic glass (left one ) somehow showed some crazing on the edges. Firstly I thought the fragility of the acrylic should be responsible for it, so I made another one and was being more cautious when hold it. However, same thing happened. To find out why I double checked each procedure that may cause damages to the material, then I realize it was the oil paint which eroded the material at the edges.

Yet, for a lazy people like me I feel bothered to replace the acrylic with another material.

So I figured out a way to solve this:

  1. Prepare a painted acrylic glass bigger than the size of reactor
  2. Cover both side with papers
  3. Laser cut it into the needed shape
  4. Get off the paper
  5. Nailed it !

Step 4: ​Turns Out It Works, Keep Going.

I put a carved glass on the top of the painted board to get a neat 3D effect and used an opalescent glass to diffuse the light while hide the LEDs behind the transparent glasses.


As for the LEDs, this time I chose to use the WS2812b with breakout boards rather than simply cut them from a LED strip. With Solidworks and 3D printer it is quite easy to design a circuit board to settle those wires.

Solder on those LEDs with wires at proper length can be tricky, it took me quite a time to finish this, you would have to be very patient.

All the files for the circuit board and the laser cut design are available for downloading at my Thinginverse. I've added the links to the files, I think you can find it at my original tutorial page.


The circuit connection is quite easy. Check the left side image and You will know what to do :)


To get a nice light effect, I've made two container for each part of the reactor. As you can see the them in the following images, one of them is used to hold the circuit board while another is for the acrylic boards.

Be noticed that as I used the green PLA material to print out all the stuff, and it turned out having a shortcoming as the light leak might affect the light effects in the dark. So you better choose a dark material or paint in to black before assembling it.

3D Printing Contest

Participated in the
3D Printing Contest