Glowing 3D Printed Coat Buttons

Stay warm this winter season with 3D Printed NeoPixel coat buttons, powered by a Gemma microcontroller.

Parts & Supplies


To keep up with what I’m working on, follow me on YouTubeInstagramTwitterPinterest, and subscribe to my newsletter. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases you make using my affiliate links.

3D Printing with Transparent PLA

For most FDM 3D printers, PLA material works with out a heated bed. Transparent PLA comes in a few different colors and there are different distributors.The extruder should be set to 230c. The model was design to print with a raft or any supports. It’s a pretty small print so we recommend supervising the whole print since it only takes 5 minutes. Below is a small list of places to get PLA. Make sure your filaments diameter size matches your 3d printer. Most common size is 1.75mm and 3mm.

Slice STL

You will need to slice your STL file using the settings above. We recommend using MakerWare or ReplicatorG.

NeoButton Set
About 5 minutes
Transparent PLA @230
No Raft
No Support
2 shells
2.0 Layer Height

Circuit Diagram


Button Removal

Carefully remove the buttons you wish to replace from your coat using scissors. We need to sew the 3D printed button base to the coat. Start with the very top button, and work your way to the bottom. Place the base part over the area where the coat button was and sew the base onto the coat. You can use normal cotton thread. Once you them sewed onto the coat, test out the coat to see if the buttons are loose enough to button the coat.

Add NeoPixels

The NeoPixels will snap onto the base. Make sure to align up the pin with the holes in the base. Notice how the holes in the base are longer than the pins of the NeoPixel. This is to allow conductive thread to be sewn to the NeoPixels. Make sure the data arrows of the NeoPixels are pointing upwards, towards the top.

Sew NeoPixels

Connect up the power, ground, and data pads on your NeoPixels with conductive thread, securing them inside the bottom half of the button. Take a look at our Conductive Thread guide as well as the Sparkle Skirt and Chameleon Scarf project guides for tips & techniques for sewing pixels with conductive thread.

The stitches should be a little loose, so that the button can lift a few millimeters away from the surface of the coat. But not so loose that the button can twist and short the threads!

Gemma + Power

The gemma can be sewn near the bottom of the coat, preferably close to the coat pocket. Position the gemma with the 3 pins facing towards the chain of NeoPixels. The Gemma is upside down, with the on-board circuity facing the inside of the coat, this provides a bit of projection. To power the gemma, you can choose between an alkaline rechargeable battery pack or a lithium polymer battery. If your using a lipo battery, you can optionally solder a slide switch for conveniently powering it on and off. The JST connection of the battery pack can be sewn to the coat. The battery can be tucked into the coat pocket.

Originally posted on Adafruit

Thanks for following along! If you enjoyed your experience, please share this guide with a friend.

If you like this project, you may be interested in some of my others:

To keep up with what I’m working on, follow me on YouTubeInstagramTwitter, and Pinterest.

%d bloggers like this: