Introduction: Iron Man Wearable Arc Reactor

A wearable model of the Mk 1 Iron Man Arc Reactor suitable for mounting simply on a t-shirt or part of the full Iron Man suit.

The design was drawn using Microsoft Visio and is based upon many images viewed on the internet over a long period. Many existing models use exotic items such as 3D printers which many of us don't have, thick metal which is difficult to work at home, and mold making techniques which are messy and difficult to master.
This model was built at my kitchen table - the message here is that that simple, inexpensive hand tools have been used along with materials that are either laying around the house or are available from a local DIY store. Of course, everything is also available via the internet, the most exotic piece is maybe the Accelerator ring - a clear Perspex block that the ring was cut from. I have since found out that this is available from as a pre-cut disk.

Step 1: What You Will Need


  1. Printer
  2. Jeweler's piercing saw (and/or coping saw)
  3. Metal file
  4. Needle file (circular profile)
  5. Drill - 2mm & 8mm bits
  6. Mortice chisels
  7. Compass circle cutter
  8. Sandpaper
  9. Hot glue gun + hot glue
  10. Soldering iron + solder


  1. Aluminium sheet - 1mm
  2. Metal mesh (fine) - use an old tea strainer
  3. Acrylic Perspex block (Clear cast polished) - 100mm x 100mm x 12mm
  4. Polyester sheet (clear) - A4 x 2mm thick (7.6" x 11" x 0.08")
  5. 6mm Meccano Allen bolts (black) with nuts
  6. Valve cup gasket ring cut from the top of an aerosol can
  7. Black satin (or matt) paint.
  8. Humbrol metallic brass modeler's paint
  9. Humbrol Chrome aerosol paint
  10. Duck tape (silver)
  11. Copper slug tape (self-adhesive)
  12. Florist's wire 0.5mm dia. (red)
  13. Battery holder + 3 x AA batteries + wires
  14. LED 10 x cool white + 10 x 1K ohm resistors
  15. EVA foam sheet 10mm
  16. T-shirt
  17. Card - cereal boxes
  18. Glue - for paper - Pritt stick
  19. Superglue (CA)
  20. Baking Soda (sodium hydrogen carbonate)
  21. Webbing straps


Not much measuring is required here. The general simple approach for cutting the parts is:

  1. Print the design on A4 paper
  2. Cut out the piece from the paper and stick it to the material using water-based glue (Pritt stick)
  3. Cut around the piece and sand to size
  4. Remove the paper template from the piece using a little water
  5. Finish the piece by sanding and smoothing

Step 2: Upper Iris

  1. Print the Iris design onto paper and stick this to the 1mm aluminium sheet with paper glue. Use a jewelers piercing saw to cut out the outline of the circle. Finish the edge using a metal file and very fine sandpaper.
  2. For each of the 21 lozenge-shaped slots, drill 2 x 2mm holes close together then use the piercing saw if necessary to create the general lozenge shape. Finish using a needle file and fine sandpaper.
  3. Use the piercing saw to remove the centre disc leaving the finished slotted ring.
  4. The 3 x supports are cut from the same aluminium sheet and bent into the dogleg shape. Mounting holes are drilled through these and the slotted disk so that Meccano Allen bolts can be used to connect them. Paint the aluminium parts black.
  5. Cut the valve cup ring from the top of an aerosol and use this as the Iris centre ring held by the 3 supports. All cans seem to have the same diameter (~33mm) so nothing special here. Use superglue to attach this ring to the Iris support brackets.

Step 3: Focus Rings

The 3 'brass' focus rings are cut from thick card using a compass circle cutting tool and soaked in superglue to add rigidity and strength. They are painted with Humbrol metallic paint to give a brass-like appearance. The bottom ring has a metal mesh superglued to the underside - this is cut from an old tea strainer.

Step 4: Accelerator Ring

The acrylic block is marked with the ring diameters and cut to size. The centre is removed using a coping saw or the piercing saw - keep the protective coating on the plastic for now to prevent the top and bottom polished surfaces being scratched. Use coarse grit sandpaper to create a perfect ring shape inside and out. Use progressively finer grit sandpaper to polish the outer and inner surfaces. Leave it a little bit opaque if you want the light to diffuse more.

Step 5: Accelerator Coils

  1. Print the designs and glue to cardboard using superglue to add rigidity and strength. Each strip is cut out using scissors. Use a mortice chisel to separate each piece from the strip.
  2. Use the mortice chisel again to knock off the corners and cut each flap - bend at 90° along the dotted line. A sturdy craft knife would suffice, but the chisels allow a nice straight edge without a ruler. Use superglue to attach a flapless piece to each piece with a flap - this adds thickness and strength. Apply superglue around the edges of each piece to fill any gaps and add more strength. Paint the coil pieces silver so that the look like metal.
  3. Use superglue to attach a left and right side for each coil to the Accelerator Ring. Gluing the flap on the inside of the coil helps to size them consistently. To save both time and wire, bulk out each coil by wrapping first with strips of 10mm x 150mm silver Duck tape, then 10mm x 150mm copper slug tape. The copper tape is an easy way to ensure a metallic shine through any gaps in the windings.
  4. There is only 1 layer of wire on each coil - the florist's wire that I used is sold by weight, not length, so I wasn't sure how much I had. Apply further layers if you have enough wire and you don't like the copper tape showing through. My calculations show that ~1.7m of wire per coil should give good coverage.
  5. It will be worth practicing your technique first as winding the wire is tedious and surprisingly difficult to get a neat finish. My choice of wire could be a factor. I used florist's (non-copper) wire for the colour and cost, but maybe softer copper wire would work better. The result does not bear scrutiny up close, however it's effective from arm's length (and in the dark!).
  6. Fix the end of the wire using a blob of superglue and sprinkle it with baking soda until it can't soak up any more. This hardens quickly into a solid, plastic or epoxy-like substance that keeps the wire in place.

Step 6: Lights

The LEDs are positioned under the base for the Focus rings and they poke through the Focus Rings Base which will be cut from the clear polyester sheet.

Create a cardboard template of the Focus Rings Base. Use the 10 holes to align the LEDs whilst you solder them to their resistors. I used a configuration so that all the LEDs are connected in parallel and powered by 3xAA batteries (i.e. 4.5V) the inner ring is +ve and the outer ring is -ve.

Step 7: Construction

  1. Glue a printed copy of the Focus Rings Base onto the clear polyester sheet with paper glue. Cut out the base and sand the edge smooth. Drill 10 x 8mm holes for the LEDs to poke through.
  2. Place a printed copy of the design top view under the Focus Rings Base to help with aligning the parts. Remove any protective film from the parts and use superglue to fix the supports for the Focus Rings to the base.
  3. Note that the Focus Ring supports are not evenly spaced - this is so that they don't interfere with the LEDs.
  4. Use superglue + baking soda to fix the 3 Focus rings to the supports.
  5. Use superglue to fix the Iris to the top Focus Ring.
  6. Use superglue to fix the Accelerator ring to the Focus Rings supports.
  7. Cut a disk of EVA foam the same size as the Focus Rings base.Remove the centre of this disk to leave a foam ring that is slightly thinner than the Accelerator ring.
  8. Cut another disk of EVA foam the same size as the Focus Rings base. Make a hole for the LED assembly wires.
  9. Use superglue to fix the foam ring on top of the foam disk.
  10. The LED assembly fits inside this and then Focus Rings base assembly is superglued on top with the LED poking through the holes.
  11. Make the wires long enough so that the battery pack can reach your pocket, or your back if attaching it to webbing straps.

Step 8: T-shirt Mount

Cut a cardboard ring with outer diameter 160mm, inner diameter 95mm. The inner ring should be just large enough to insert the foam base of the arc reactor.

Use hot glue to attach the cardboard ring to the inside of the t-shirt. When the glue is cooled/dry, make some cuts across the centre, fold back the 'petals', glue them to the inside of the card with hot glue and tidy up by snipping off any excess unglued material.

This may be enough to support the reactor, however you can create a harness underneath the shirt and attach the reactor with velcro to prevent the t-shirt from sagging out of shape.