Mechanical Iris





Introduction: Mechanical Iris

About: self-unemployed maker
I've seen lots of variations on the mechanical iris but not many plans for one. My 13 year old son and I worked on this together to figure out how it works and how to make one. We built several variations in different materials using slightly different fasteners. Several were laser cut and one was 3D printed. I've included drawings and models so people can easily modify it and make it better

And here are a couple videos showing it in action

And here's a visualization of it


Here is the Inventor model

4 People Made This Project!


  • Woodworking Contest

    Woodworking Contest
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    Oil Contest
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    Make it Move Contest

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Never mind. But thanks, this is really cool!

Any chance you've made one with 8 blades? I've been scouring the web to find the calculations needed in designing this but have come up with none.Thanks! helps you create your own iris. It's been a very helpful resource for me.

Oops, forgot the .com:

These files are all old windows 1995-2000 files. you will have to download a program

Some of the files wont download or show up as corrupt .tmp files... :/ Help?

4 replies

Which files won't download? I can send you any you'd like

The .ipt and .iam parts won't download for me...

hi, i also cant open .dwfx file and all the.ipt files. can you email them to me? tqvm carl

I have the same problem. Would you send them to me, please?

Just wanted to say thanks for posting native IV files :)
Those of us who are do use Inventor really appreciate not having to create feature trees from some imported unintelligent format.

1 reply

anyone meander a guess at why these inventor files seem to download only as garblenamed .tmp's on my end? pardon my grocer's apostrophe. they appear to be similar in size.. might they only require re-naming to the proper file extension? no harm in tryi...ahHHHHH!

When I first saw this it reminded me of a "Longworth" chuck that I made a while back. I'm pretty sure this could be made into a "steady rest" for use on a wood lathe. It would need a little modification, especially a way to lock it in place after adjusting and also adding a base so it can be mounted on the ways. Thanks for the ideas. Now all I need is a laser cutter and learning how to use it!

Hey Fantastic, just made mine out of plywood, so quick and relatively easy to do with your template, thankyou SO much!

Ps...i've noticed that the pins that run along the long slots in the outer rim don't quite reach the furthest point on one side, are you doing this so it looks symmetrical?

1 reply

I can't quite remember but I think you hit the nail on the head. I wanted them to look symmetrical and there was a good enough stop in place. Feel free to change it

I love this design of mechanical apertures, I've seen them many time made of brass and wood and they all look terrific! Sadly the aperture is just a third the size of the whole device, and as I'm looking for what to add to a pair of steampunk'd goggles this is not quite there.

Anyway, thanks A LOT for uploading the blueprints, I'm more likely to make a wood one and use it as a mailbox or something, but I just made this out of card stock and toothpicks to kill some spare time. More than nothing to see it work.

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You're aboslutely right -- these tend to be not very space efficient

The other mechanical irises, with the overlapping leaves, are better for that

I remember when these where confusing to me. then i built one from a design similar to this one and it wasnt just confusing, but difficult to build! now that i am older it seems much simpler: but still brain-numbingly difficult to make from paper!