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In all three Iron Man movies as well as The Avengers, the Iron Man suit utilized by Tony Stark was rather heavily damaged in the various fights. This is especially true in the first Iron Man movie where his suit was crushed by Obadiah.

However, I noticed that the Arc Reactor in Tony's chest basically sustained no physical damage. There were several scenes (Iron Man, The Avengers) where his Arc Reactor stopped working for a short period of time but there was no visible damage to the structure of the Arc Reactor itself.

Is there an in-universe explanation of this?

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    Since there is no real world precedent for such a technology, let's go with as indestructible as possible. Especially since it was supposed to be keeping Stark alive, I assume he wasn't using the Windows OS... – Thaddeus Howze Jun 6 '13 at 16:49
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    The Arc Reactor being essentially a part of Tony's body, is just as protected within the Iron Man suit as the rest of the body. So, it makes sense that the Arc Reactor would not have suffered any catastrophic structural damage thus far - for that to happen, much worse damage would have also been done to Tony himself! – Iszi Jun 6 '13 at 18:16
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Iszi already said most of it. There seemed to be always some kind of transparent protective layer over it, which allowed the "glow" to be visible but protecting it from harm. Since the suit had at least 2-3cm strength/depth, the arc's inlet was lower then that, the protective layer above it could be nearly an inch thick.

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