Picture of 3D Design of a Mechanical Iris
iris 1.jpg

So I've always wanted to build a mechanical iris, and this 3D design contest sounds like the perfect way to work the bugs out.

We'll call this step 0 (maybe? it is my first instructable...) - Research!  You need to figure out what you want to make and if its ever been made before.  What problems they have had, or success stories.  So hit up google images and search for mechanical iris.

the first image is what i actually ended up with!

Disclaimer:  I know the mechanical iris has been instructabled to death, but this is focusing on the CAD design of it, not the mechanism itself. 
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Step 1: Draw It!

Picture of Draw It!
A 3D program is not a sketch book, make sure you have a plan before getting into it.  I generally use AutoCAD to do the first drawings.  I make a 2D drawing that gives the basics of the mechanism.  Each component of the mechanism gets its own layer so I can turn the others off and get a clear picture of what I'm working on.

Step 2: Check It

Picture of Check It
This is the point where you do the quick idiot check of the design, and make sure it does what you want.  Mine didn't, so I had to redesign it.  It would have sucked to have to build it in 3D before realizing this error my part...

After I made sure it would function the way I wanted, I took the time to focus on how i would make it.  Since I haven't wont the replicator yet, I would have to make this by hand.  look at all those complicated cuts?  So I made a 3rd version with less intricate cuts. 

Always remember that you can draw anything, model most things, but you're limited to what you can actually build.  That's why I want a 3D printer!
robodavey10 months ago

I used this site to design an iris:

It works it all out for you, and if you get the pro version you can even download the drawing and use it in whatever CAD program you use!

godfish2 years ago
I got all happy and ready to do this? Then i checked on this SolidWorks, its 100 bucks or more, any its not easy to just get you have to get a quote? Dude! This sucks. Is there a free version? I'm not going to make money with this?
Rob311 (author)  godfish2 years ago
It's not a free program. I use it because I took a class on it and they gave me a free copy.

Now that I know how to use it, I would probably buy a copy. It's worth it.
godfish Rob3112 years ago
Ok, good luck with that? I can't and most people wont.
Farrit godfish1 year ago

I know I'm a little late to the party, but there are tons of open-source (Read: "free") alternatives out there that work just as well as solidworks.

One of the best ones out there is called FreeCAD.

noahw2 years ago
Did you enter this in the digital fabrication contest that's running right now? I think that it's an excellent entry. Nice Instructable!
Rob311 (author)  noahw2 years ago
I did, but it was rejected =o(

I assume it's because I didn't actually fabricate it digitally, just designed it digitally and cut it out by hand.
noahw Rob3112 years ago
Ah yes, sorry, that is a requirement of the contest. In any case, good work.
Rob311 (author)  noahw2 years ago
Thank you.

I'll try again after i win the replicator and print it out!
Rob311 (author) 2 years ago
It finally says I'm in the contest, VOTE FOR ME! WOO HOO!
Thank you so much, and this is a great post. They can be difficult to write, or organize, but each Instructable does so much good for our community of learners and makers!