Building a life-size Iron Man Hulkbuster suit

A Maker has designed a Hulkbuster costume in homage of the upcoming Avengers 2: Age of Ultron film. 

With Maker Faire Bay Area just around the corner, there’s nothing like some life-size cosplay to spur a little excitement. While we’ve seen a number of pretty impressive Iron Man suits in the past, James Bruton’s latest creation may take the cake. The UK-based Maker has designed a slick Hulkbuster costume in homage of the upcoming Avengers 2: Age of Ultron film.


“I had planned to build a real life suiting up robot gantry for my Iron Man MKVI build. However, since the suit and its strapping system have progressed, the idea has become less practical. Also, as the Iron Man/Avengers series of films has progressed, Tony Stark has moved away from a special room full of robot arms to do the suit-up, towards suits that put themselves on,” Bruton writes.

With that in mind, the Maker had taken it up himself to create a next-gen getup with Hollywood-like appeal. To complete this task, Burton wanted the suit to not only be self-supporting for when the wearer climbs in and out, but 3D-printed using his Lulzbot TAZ machine and powered by several embedded electronics as well.


In order to make the suit free-standing, Bruton designed a set of stilts with space for a remote locking mechanism for the feet and legs. The stilts, along with portions of the frame, were comprised of plywood pieces coated in silver paint and connected by domestic door hinges at its joints.

The Maker included an end stop to prevent overbalancing, along with 3D-printed bearing blocks hinged around the costume’s thigh section and a locking bolt/pin to keep the joint in an upright position. Meanwhile, the joint between the torso and thighs consist of a bungee cord, a 3D-printed rubber buffer piece and plenty of padding to ensure comfort. Bruton also added some snowboard bindings to serve as locking mechanisms for the feet.


The suit’s 3D-printed hands and forearms even feature Iron Man-esque animatronics, which are powered by an Arduino Uno (ATmega328) in each arm that trigger servos to drive the hand plates. The forearms were designed to have “pop-out weapons” that required various mechanics to hinge backgrounds to point the repulser forward. Another Arduino is embedded within the torso of the suit, and connected by data connectors to activate features located in the body from joysticks in each arm. As for the hand itself, there are three fingers, with the middle one being a bit wider to resemble the suit from the soon-to-be-released flick. These hands are mounted to the suit, and Bruton says cordless screwdriver motors were used to enable the grippers.

“I’m using cordless screwdriver motors to drive the features, these are mounted in pairs on each arm on a 3D-printed bracket with a pulley assembly to pull the finger cords. These parts have to support the arms and allow movement in multiple axis, so I have two spaces for bearings on each axis,” Burton writes. “The elbow hinge will also act as a pulley with another motor to drive the joint, I’ll be springing the arm in the middle of it’s range of motion so that the motor only needs to pull it off centre rather than supporting the whole load around the pivot point. The arm is suspended with a combination of bungee cord and wooden dowel with 3D printed ends. I’m using some larger metal geared motors to drive the elbows — this are Como-Drills 919D motors with an 810:1 gearbox. The bungee and dowels are covered with fake pistons made from PVC pips and 3D printed spacers.”


As for its shoulders, these will also be open to not only allow the helmet to hinge back, but for the “weaponry” to be revealed. This will be made possible through four-bar linkage and some additional frame parts. One end is hinged on the existing M8 studding which the arms are mounted to, while the other runs into a channel. Bruton notes that the lever mechanism is sprung so that it can stay in either position or be activated by cable control.

Beyond that, the back of the suit is completely open to let a wearer easily hop in and out. As the Maker reveals, its rear panels needed to be able to be remotely activated and while the wearer is inside the suit, in addition to having a safety release for a quick exit in the event of power failure.

Like a number of its other parts, a majority of the chest plates were comprised of foam PVC, plastazote foam and 3D-printed components. The main plate is mounted, enabling the opening of panels on each side of the Unibeam to later hold internal detailing. These parts will be driven by an R/C servo so that they can open and close.


And, what would Iron Man be without an Arc Reactor? Designed in collaboration with Adafruit, both the Unibeam and Arc Reactor unit are illuminated by a series of NeoPixel LEDs and driven by a GEMMA microcontroller (ATtiny85).

Overall, this may be one, if not, the most elaborate and truly impressive cosplay projects we’ve seen. We wouldn’t be surprised if a few Hollywood producers call Bruton for prop jobs after this display of creativity. Intrigued? You can find an extremely detailed breakdown of the build here, or simply watch his 29-part video tutorial.

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