How to make an iris diaphragm?

Hey there!
I've been scouring the internet, and I still can't fin anything to help me, so I'm hoping someone here will have the knowledge to give me some assistance.
I would like to build an iris diaphragm. Yes, those things inside cameras. But bigger.
But I can figure out the size thing on my own.
What I'm hoping is that someone will understand the mechanics of it.

I've included a basic picture of one. Google image search might reveal other examples.
Basically, I'll need to be able to slide the leaves with some sort of handle so that they form a larger hole and then can close up again.
Here is a link to the entirety of the useful information I could find.

I would be incredibly grateful! As would, I'm sure, several other people on the internet that are apparently also trying to figure out how to do this.

Hopefully thanks in advance!

Picture of How to make an iris diaphragm?
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jaime99995 years ago
go to Sur La Table at your local mall and buy this $7 item (or get one online):


this is sold as a spaghetti measuring device, but it's really a diaphragm iris

take it apart (break the ultrasonic welds holding it together), you can see how such a thing can be simply and ruggedly built. Also interesting to note how friction is not a problem when using self-lubricating materials like nylon, and when the notches and pivots are placed with advantageous angles and leverage.

Awesome dude!!

Thanks for saving me from buying an expensive one or manufacturing one.

eruger2 years ago

Does anyone know how to design the leaves from scratch (other than trial and error)? I see lots of references to "miscalculations" in making an iris, but where do you find the basis for making those calculations? I've been hunting for a while now, and while I can easily make a pattern that works okay, I can't seem to learn how people make them "just-so", without simply copying another device.

robodavey2 years ago

Search this awesome instructables site and:
Both have really helped me understand how to make an iris diaphragm. Plus a lot of Googling!
Hopefully this comment is of help to someone still...

LeRobot4 years ago
OK, this is totaly late but if ever someone still is searching for good info, I also found this. It helps figure out whats going on with movement....
Hope this helps. I'm also trying to figure this out for a huge round window I have at home. I'd like to make this as a way to shut the window for privacy...

eekay8 years ago
The above 3D Studio Max illustration gives you a rough idea of the assembly, although the extra notches in the leaves are unnecessary. The above illustration also lacks an actuator plate, the part which is going to make the leaves open or close. This is a little more helpful, this guy used a laser cutter and pegboard. As you've noticed well enough yourself, you can use two different styles of leaf. One being easier to prototype then the other when it comes to hand tools and basic materials. I got onto this similar path after seeing these today. Good luck.
My search began with the exact same pair of goggles
As did mine! Too bad titanium is too expensive or I'd make a pair now!
I think the extra notches are for the next two clockwise pins, so the iris/aperture can open further.
antienoob6 years ago
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