Introduction: Mechanical Iris

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


basmajiev made it! (author)2017-08-21

Thanks:)It was funny:)

NathanE16 (author)2016-10-24

Can you provide dimensions?

NathanE16 (author)NathanE162016-10-25

Never mind. But thanks, this is really cool!

chrisse.x made it! (author)2016-05-15

Thanks, really nice design. Made one out of 4 mm plywood. Works fine.

JohnA227 (author)2016-03-09

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!

NicholasC45 made it! (author)2016-02-02

i made two of these by hand with a scroll saw...first one was on a bandsaw little roughter.....i got it to fit good and slide almost smoothly...currently using coat hanger pieces as pins.....what is something that would be recommended by you holes are 3/32 in diameter...thanks in advance

art.makes (author)2015-09-22

In case anyone is still having trouble opening the files, here are a few more file formats (iges, step, sat, eps, dxf 2010, dxf 2000 .ai cs4, .ai CC )

robodavey (author)2015-08-15 helps you create your own iris. It's been a very helpful resource for me.

robodavey (author)2015-08-15

Oops, forgot the .com:

antigravityd (author)2015-04-18

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

jpietrzak (author)2014-08-25

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

carlbass (author)jpietrzak2014-08-25

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

jpietrzak (author)carlbass2014-10-28

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

yasmink (author)carlbass2014-10-01

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

bquint (author)carlbass2014-09-15

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

tlharris (author)2013-09-15

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.

globalfax (author)tlharris2014-03-27

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!

oldfatnbroke (author)2014-03-11

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!

NTT made it! (author)2014-03-04

This is just great! I slapped a bit of ~3.5mm ply in my laser cutter and job's-a-good-'ne! :oD

Thank you for such a great job -- this has given me so many ideas!

hello-arya (author)2013-10-11

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?

carlbass (author)hello-arya2013-10-12

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

JBantha (author)2012-08-11

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.

carlbass (author)JBantha2012-08-11

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

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

imBobertRobert (author)2012-02-29

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!

dwhite0 (author)2011-09-29

Nobody, but nobody uses .ipt files! How about using something 99% of the world uses. Thanks for your redo.

steveastrouk (author)dwhite02011-10-31

Nobody uses Inventor ?

dwhite0 (author)steveastrouk2011-10-31

AS I said before, It is the authors loss.

steveastrouk (author)dwhite02011-10-31

Most decent 3D cad systems will import IPT files _ my model is working right now in Alibre. ( 120 USd)


dwhite0 (author)steveastrouk2011-10-31

Do you really, honestly think, that the millions of craft people in the world have this sort of software? Those of us who look to Instructables as a source of fun projects do not have this type of software. Yes, there are 30 day trial versions available as are pirated versions. Lets get real here. If Instructables is a meeting place for egotist so be it. Just remember, that the majority of the readers will just ignore your efforts, if it is not readily available to them.

steveastrouk (author)dwhite02011-10-31

THE MAJOR part of the reason Instructables was taken over by Autodesk was PRECISELY because they are trying to pitch their latest tools AT "millions of craft people"

Or have you not read the announcements ???

dwhite0 (author)steveastrouk2011-10-31

What announcements? Where?

carlbass (author)dwhite02011-10-31

Let me try to clear this up a little.

I think much of the great stuff on instructables needs little or no CAD, engineering or analysis software. For times where people do need CAD software there's a lot out there ranging from free to professional software costing thousands of dollars.

As for Autodesk, all of our software is free to students. We also have free viewers for almost all our different file types. For hobbyists, we have new free software called 123D and variations such as 123D Sculpt and 123D Make.

I posted files from software I had available to me but as steveastrouck points out, most software today can read all kinds of different files.

bbotany (author)carlbass2012-02-04

Thanks for posting the PDF! And the dxf too - I think I have something that can parse that, but it requires google-fu while pdf "just works".

Unfortunately, in the thirty minutes I looked I only saw Autodesk viewers for MS and Mac, and I don't have either. : (

dwhite0 (author)carlbass2011-11-01

My bad! I Googled Instructables, Inc, and sure enough, Autodesk is the new owner.
My Bad!

dwhite0 (author)carlbass2011-11-01

I really appreciate your comments, and clues as to software I might be able to use from time to time. I assume your comment " ...the reason Instructables was taken over by Autodesk..." was an an exaggeration.

dwhite0 (author)steveastrouk2011-10-31

Only those who are rich enough to afford $1395.00 for software. All my computer equipment cost less than that.

steveastrouk (author)dwhite02011-10-31

There are some wild discounts available for it - especially for student users, but you SAID "Nobody, but nobody", without qualification, and I called you on it.

carlbass (author)dwhite02011-09-29

About 500K people use it. I posted the .ipt and .iam in case anyone wanted to easily modify the mechanism. I just posted PDF, DWF and DWF in addition to the DWG

cargorilla (author)carlbass2011-10-15

thank you for doing all that work in posting the pattern files. These people who are so demanding that you post files just to suit them need to get stuffed. Thanks again. This is the coolest instructable ever.

dwhite0 (author)carlbass2011-09-29

Thanks for your help.

electronfan (author)2012-01-05

Exellent project, right for active brains! Shure I'll make my own!

bouncebackability (author)2011-09-26

This looks great!! I agree with 21GeeOff21 that it would be amazing as a viewing hole. However, I'm unable to open any of the downloads. Do you have them in jpg or other ubiquitous file type?

You can use the following free downloads to open the files above:

Design Review:

DWG TrueView:

Optionally, if you'd like to open the Inventor file formats to view the parts/assemblies in 3D (.ipt and .iam) you can use

Inventor View:

I use these applications all the time to open the above file types. Enjoy!

Jsquared24 (author)2011-09-30

This would seem good to fit into a steampunk-ish google, but this is pretty cool!

LollyzBored (author)Jsquared242011-10-13


djnikosburn (author)2011-10-13

Dudeeee someone could use something like for hydro systems just to control the flow of the water! Sounds good to me!

dvillegas duque (author)2011-10-10

What kind of material do you recomend, i mean a material hard but kinda easy to cut.
Sorry if my english is poor, i speak spanish

carlbass (author)dvillegas duque2011-10-11

I used acrylic for one of them. FDor the other I used hardboard. But it should work out of any reasonably hard material that you can cut

vincent7520 (author)2011-10-04

thank you for your contribution ! …

mariopc (author)2011-10-01

Wow!!! great!!!

About This Instructable




Add instructable to: