Many users often want to have props of their favorite superhero characters like their helmets, weapons, etc. Some users only want these props as decorative pieces in their homes. However, these props may be very difficult to come by or too expensive. I decided to write this article explaining how to 3D print an Iron Man helmet.
To 3D print an Iron Man helmet, you’ll need to get a suitable model from Thingiverse. Then, tweak your slicer settings to get the best print results. After printing the models, you can sand and paint them to enhance their appearance. You can also add other electronic components like LEDs or motors.
In this article, I’ll guide you through a step-by-step process of 3D printing an Iron Man helmet. So, keep reading to find out more information on how you can bring the Iron Man helmet to life.
How to 3D Print an Iron Man Helmet
- Get your Preferred Model
- Prepare the 3D Model
- Prepare your 3D Printer
- Adjust your Slicer Settings
- Print your Iron Man Helmet
- Assemble the Pieces
- Post Processing
1. Get Your Preferred Model
The first step in printing your Iron Man helmet is getting the 3D model from online archives like Thingiverse, and MyMiniFactory. You’ll want to ensure that the model is of high quality and can be easily printed.
Also, since the model is very large, you may want to consider some things when selecting your model. If your printer doesn’t have a large build volume, you will need to source for models that have been split so that you can easily print the individual pieces on your printer.
There’s also a chance that some of the split models may still be larger than the build plate, which could be overwhelming. However, you can still make use of certain software to split the models into smaller sizes which I’ll talk more about later on in this article.
If you have a large-size printer, you can decide to print the fused model in one go, or print models that have already been split.
Here is a list of popular Iron Man helmets you can download and print.
This Iron Man helmet is a life-sized model that can be printed in parts. So, even if you have a smaller printer, you should have no problem printing the individual parts.
Many users have been able to print it and can attest to the model’s quality. It shares a striking resemblance with Iron Man’s helmet once it’s assembled and painted.
It also has provisions for LEDs on the eye sockets and motors that can make the helmet open and close.
You can check out this from the designer to see how he puts the pieces together. He also includes a written guide so that you can easily assemble the pieces.
This model is based on the initial Iron Man helmet from the movies. It is also split into smaller pieces so you shouldn’t have any problems printing regardless of your printer’s size.
It’s very easy to assemble because it is split into a few parts. You can even print multiple pieces in one go, to save time.
Although not an original Iron Man helmet, this model is based on the helmet used by Iron Man’s sidekick, the Iron Patriot in the movie. This model is split into about 20+ parts, which makes it very easy to print and fun to assemble, especially for people who love puzzle games.
If you have a large 3D printer, you can print this Iron Man helmet in one go. It doesn’t need any assembling, simply slice it, send the model into the printer, and start printing.
However, the downside to this model is that, in case of any defects during printing, you may need to start again, which could lead to filament wastage.
Another thing to note is that, before printing, ensure you size the model properly so that it fits your head.
Another way to get a 3D model of Iron Man’s helmet is to design one. This is only advisable if you already have 3D modeling skills. While this may not be the best route, it still has its perks.
Creating your 3D model will help you make custom parts, you’ll also be able to properly size the model so that it can fit properly without making any adjustments later on.
You can check out this video from Tami Coker to see how he created an Iron Man helmet with a blender from start to finish using images of the model.
2. Prepare the 3D Model
After getting the preferred model of your Iron Man helmet, the next step is to prepare the model for printing. First, you need to import the model into your slicer software for printing. This will grant you access to make some tweaks to the model before you begin printing.
Once you import the model into your slicer software and you observe that the model is way bigger than your printer’s build plate, you have to rescale the model. This is only feasible if you don’t intend to wear the helmet.
Split the Model
If you intend you use the helmet as a prop or costume and its full scale dimensions are way larger than your buildplate, then you have to split the model.
To split the model, you can make use of the popular 3D model editor known as Meshmixer or a slicer software like Slic3r.
I’d recommend you use Meshmixer if you need to split your models or make other edits because it’s much easier to use and there’s more freedom on how you can do it.
With this software, you can split the model into various smaller parts so that it can fit on your printer’s build plate. Also, you may want to split the models so that you can avoid wasting filament in case the print fails and you have to start all over.
You can check out this video from Frankly Built to see how he split various helmets to fit his 3D printer’s build plate.
Position the Model Properly
After splitting your model into smaller parts, you’ll need to find the best position to place the helmet so that it can print successfully. One thing to consider when you’re positioning the model is to orient it in a way that requires the least support to completely print the model.
To ensure that the supports do not compromise the details on the helmet, you have to make sure that the supports are generated on the interior areas of the model.
Once supports are automatically generated by your slicer software, you may still need to verify if the supports are adequate so that your prints don’t fail.
Here’s a video from Frankly Built on how you can position your Iron Man helmet to get the best results.
Scale the Model
Another thing to consider is the dimensions of the helmet. You’ll want to make sure that the model fits your head perfectly.
One way to verify that the helmet will fit your head is to take measurements of the length and width of the model and compare it to the width and length of the widest part of your head. If there is any difference in the measurement, you can always scale up or down, till it’s snug.
Also, you can get a 3D scan of your head with your phone or a 3D scanner if you have one already. Once the 3D scan is generated, you can upload the file to Meshmixer, together with the 3D model of the helmet.
Now place the 3D scan of your head into the helmet to see if there are any protrusions. If there’s none, then you can rotate the model and observe the amount of clearance in there. You can always shrink the helmet if the clearance is very large so that it’s properly fitted.
You can get the Creality CR Scan Ferret 3D Scanner from Amazon. It will provide an accurate 3D scan of the models you want to print.
Check out this video from Frankly Built on how you can scale helmets to fit your head on Meshmixer.
3. Prepare Your 3D Printer
The next step is to prepare your 3D printer. You have to ensure that the printer is in great working condition before you can begin printing. The choice of material for printing will determine the durability of the helmet since the model will be under constant physical contact.
For example, you can decide to use PETG, ABS, or even PLA+, due to their resistance to wear. Ensure you have enough filament, or you can get this Overture PLA+ Filament from Amazon.
Also, you need to ensure that your printer’s bed is level and clean, as a well-leveled bed prevents printing failures. This is very important here since the models are very large and the slightest irregularity on the bed may ruin the entire print.
4. Adjust Your Slicer Settings
Once your printer is ready, you need to tweak your slicer settings so that you can begin printing. While there are lots of settings available for you to adjust on your slicer software, you do not need to tamper with all of them.
Here are some settings you need to adjust when printing your Iron Man helmet:
- Print Speed: The default print speed on Cura is about 50mm/s which is suitable for the Iron Man helmet. However, you may be able to increase it to about 70mm/s without much loss in the quality of the print, while you also get to reduce the print time.
- Layer Height: Since the helmet is very large, printing it at low layer heights is not advisable. You can print the model at about 0.2-0.28mm without any cause for alarm. This is because most people eventually sand the helmet to get rid of the layer lines.
- Infill Density: Again, to save filament, you can print the Iron Man helmet at an infill density between 5 and 10% without any compromise in quality. At higher values, you’ll only end up wasting filament and time. Also, the overall weight of the model would increase.
- Infill Pattern: Many users have had successful prints with the Gyroid infill pattern. This is because it provides a reasonable amount of strength-to-weight ratio in prints.
Once you are done editing, you can preview the layer of the model to ensure the model will print successfully. If you discover any issues with the model when you preview the individual layers, simply tweak the slicer settings again until it’s just right.
One user shared his print results for the Iron Man helmet, which came out great. He said he printed it at 100% scale, 0.2mm layer height, and a fairly fast print speed of 90-100 mm/s.
As a result, it took way more sanding than it would require if he printed it at a much slower speed. He said its wearable, but it scrapes his ears really bad, so he got some snap magnets to make the jaw detachable.
Another user printed his Iron Man helmet with PLA filament at 0.2mm layer height, 25% infill, and 3 perimeters. He started sanding with 240 grit, then 400, and lastly 600, and then used a filler to cover areas with defects. He said it fitted nicely.
Here is a video from Frankly Built that dives into detail on his slicer settings for his Iron Man helmet.
5. Print Your Iron Man Helmet
After getting your slicer settings ready, the next step is to print your Iron Man model. On your slicer software, simply slice your model and export the G-code for printing.
You can either connect your printer directly to your PC, or you can copy the G-code generated to a USB stick to print.
As the print is ongoing, ensure you check on the print at intervals so that you can confirm if the print is going as planned. This will allow you to quickly address any issue at its early stages before it becomes a much bigger problem.
Ensure that you monitor the progress of your prints so that you can verify whether the print is going as planned or not. This will allow you to quickly combat any issues that may arise before it completely ruins the whole print.
One user said it took him 114 hours or 136 hours if the time taken for failed prints were included. He stated that the helmet can fit a 24-inch head, with the longest section taking about 19 hours to complete.
6. Assemble the Pieces
If you printed the Iron Man helmet in parts, the next line of action is to assemble them. Ensure you remove the supports before you begin assembling. You can put them together with superglue, soldering iron, epoxy, or any other form of adhesive.
Also, ensure that the parts align properly for a seamless final product.
One user stated that he assembled pieces of his helmet with popsicle sticks and hot glue. He used the popsicle sticks to bridge the gaps between the pieces and applied glue between the seam and the sticks.
He said it helps if your pieces don’t come off the printer perfectly and don’t line up exactly.
7. Post Processing
Post-processing is a very important aspect of 3D printing the Iron Man helmet. This helps to enhance the final appearance of the model. For the Iron Man helmet, some post-processing tasks you can perform include:
- Sanding and Painting
- Add Electronic Components
Sanding and Painting
You may begin the post-processing procedure by first sanding the model to remove the layer lines on the model. You can start with sandpaper at 100 grit to remove the glaring layer lines and other defects on the model’s exterior.
Then you can work your way up in steps until you get to a 2,000-grit sandpaper.
Once you’re done sanding, wash the model to observe for any irregularities that didn’t come off. You can restart the entire sanding process if you discover any defects in any area of the model after washing.
Remember to use a facemask when sanding so that you don’t inhale any dust particles.
You can get this YXYL Assorted Pack of Sandpaper with varying grit sizes from Amazon so that you can give your prints a more enhanced outlook.
Now, you can apply a primer to the entire surface of the helmet. This helps to create an even base coat for painting and improves paint adhesion. It also helps to detect if the model’s surface is free of any debris or imperfections.
The Rust Oleum 249088 Flat Gray Mineral Primer is a high-quality primer that you can get from Amazon to apply on your models before painting.
After the primer has dried, use acrylic paints to replicate the iconic Iron Man color scheme. Take your time with this step to achieve a professional appearance.
Add Electronic Components
Another way you can take post-processing to the next level is to add in some electronics. Just like in the movies, you can make the Iron Man helmet motorized in such a way that it can pop open and close on command.
You can also add LEDs that light up in the eye areas to give it a more realistic look.
For example, this YouTuber, Kersey Fabrication created an Iron Helmet that had a fully functional display. It was able to identify objects and people whilst being able to indicate the location of the user.
Another YouTuber, The Cyber Hobbit, designed a motorized Iron Man helmet that could open and close on demand using a remote control. It also had LEDs on the eye sockets just like in the movies.