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Thursday, December 8, 2011

Stark IMD Case Mod, Part 2

Comic artwork references:







Original costume details: For one side panel, I added a design accent based
on the ribbed belt. The base plate of the case is styled after Iron Man's boot
treads. For the mask, I went to a recent version of Iron Man - the 2005 and
2006 release of "Extremis" (also available as a graphic novel of the
same name. I used the circuit-style lettering of the title for the IMD plaque.)

Construction of the IMD side panels:

The side panel over the system board has a clear acrylic window held in place
with plastic panel fasteners. Strips of half-round wood trim and two blocks
of 3/4" MDF simulate the belt assembly of the early iron man comics. The
wood trim is attached using some leftover epoxy. Once set, I masked out the
window, and coated the wood with a couple of thin layers of aluminum-tinted

The side panel behind the system board also has a window cutout, but instead
of acrylic, it has a piece of pierced aluminum mesh attached to the panel using
copper rivets. Here you can see the both panels masked out for painting with
silver hammered-finish paint.

The base plate for the case is patterned after the chunky-style treaded boots
of the original costume. The foot plate had to wait until the curved steel panel
was attached to the front to get the final dimensions and the curved edge to
match. Strips of 3/4" MDF were cut, beveled on the router, and then glued
to the upper plate. The treads were sealed with a couple of layers of aluminized
epoxy, and then painted with more hammered-finish silver paint.

My metallic red paint had not arrived yet, so it's time to improvise. First,
a layer of metallic silver is used over the armor. (The steel plate over the
power supply area has been masked out.)


Next, a layer of transparent red "stained glass" paint is used, giving
a dark, but very nice red metallic appearance.









An Iron Man mask to run diagnostics on:

To make the case more than just an armored shell, I wanted to give the system
a purpose, even if it is a fictional one. Readers rarely see Tony Stark testing
his armor. He always seems to rush off, slap something together that works perfectly
and is well finished, miniaturized, and usually violating several laws of physics
- but hey, it's fiction, right?

But what to run diagnostics on? The iron man mask
is probably one of the most characteristic parts that while frequently changed,
still has similar features, such as no nose, slitted, glowing white eyes, and
a slash of a mouth. To build a quick 3/4 scale mask, I started with a block
of foam rubber and carved out the general shape. A coat of epoxy seals the surface
and stiffens it for a fiberglass layer. After this layer set, a coating of epoxy
smooths out the textured surface.








Left: Foam rubber makes a quick and simple core to build up a fiberglass Iron
Man mask.

Right: After a couple of layers of epoxy and some fiberglass cloth, the mask
resembles the mummy more than Iron Man.








Left: Rough sanding of the fiberglass layer reveals an irregular surface.

Right: A coating of epoxy with orange pigment helps fill shallow depressions.
The color change helps identify the layers when sanding.

Some comments on epoxy resin: I prefer two-part epoxy
over polyester resin since there are little or no fumes; and being relatively
colorless, it can easily be tinted. Aluminum powder added to the epoxy
gives a silver appearance; bronzing powders are available in various
copper, bronze, and gold tones; dry tempera paint can be used for bright
primary colors; powdered charcoal or even laser printer or copier toner
can be used for a solid black coating. Check out John
Greer and Associates
for marine epoxy, mold compound, and filler
materials that can be used to thicken the epoxy into a putty-like consistency.
Talc gives a very smooth texture; shredded fiberglass thickens and adds
strength. I also use glass sandblasting beads as filler; it tends to
create a sand-like texture in large amounts, but it will also add weight








Left: The orange layer failed to smooth out the surface enough, so I applied
a thick layer of epoxy mixed with sandblasting glass beads that can be heavily
sanded and carved. The translucent green coating gives the mask a vaguely alien

Right: After sanding, the edge lines are brought back using a flexshaft and
carving burr. I finally received my talc and fiberglass fillers, and promptly
tested the talc-epoxy mixture to smooth out the surface. A bit too much talc
in this batch left brush streaks.

Ribbing is added by cutting a slot in the side of the mask, and hot glue is
used to hold three sections of ribbed wood trim in the opening.

When filled in and smoothed over with more epoxy, it's just about ready for
painting. A light hand-sanding to smooth out minor imperfections, then off to
the garage to prime, mask, and finish with gold and red paint.








The eye slits are carved out and squared off. The entire mask is given a coat
of gray primer. Areas that will be painted red are masked out and the exposed
section painted gold. Once dry, the area that was masked with blue painter's
tape is reversed. The exposed primed areas now receive a layer of metallic silver
paint, followed by a single coat of transparent red.








Thin white plastic is cut for the eye slits and glued in place with hot glue.
Threaded nuts are glued to the inside edge of the rear of the mask, these will
be used to anchor the mask to the mesh side of the system panel.

Next time: The power core shield and final assembly.

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