Print-In-Place Iris Box (remix)

by LoboCNC, published

Print-In-Place Iris Box (remix) by LoboCNC Oct 10, 2016

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This is a smaller, 4-leaf redesign of emmett's totally amazing Preassembled Iris Box (http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:1811143). After studying emmett's design carefully and with some advice from emmett himself, I managed to design a 60mm diameter version that prints faster. I also increased the internal clearances somewhat to make it less challenging to print. Like emmett's, it prints pre-assembled and without supports. Thanks, emmett!

Update: In my original version, the outer sphere was a little wobbly when closed and could cause jams. I've updated it to help prevent this problem. I've also included the Solidworks (2011) model for anyone to hack on.

Print Settings

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Print with 0.2mm layers to make sure the internal gaps print properly.


The bottoms of the 4 leafs print directly on the table and can be seen in the 4 slots in the bottom. To keep the leafs from breaking free during printing, I added 4 thin tabs attaching each leaf bottom to the outer ring. Use a razor blade or hobby knife to cut away these tabs.

The outer sphere is actually a dial that rotates. To free it, stick a small screw driver in the gap above the base ring and gently pry it free, working around the whole perimeter. Depending on how good your printer is with small gaps, you may need to insert a thin blade into the gaps at the top to free the leafs.

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hi, how large are your internal clearances?

imho that design has a big issue... the external sphere, which needs to be "free to turn", is firmly stuck to the bottom layers, with no brittle parts. If you print hard solid, you will never be able to unstuck it, and this will result either to a "non working thing" or a "broken thing".
This design needs to have holes and bridges to make the external sphere "easy to unstuck"...
the other parts are wonderfull

If you slice with exactly 0.2mm layers as indicated, there should be a skipped layer between the external sphere and the base. Essentially, bottom layers act as a raft for the outer sphere, which you can then break free using a screw driver as shown in the photos. Also, if you read through the other comments, you'll find additional tips on getting the parts freed up.

Jul 16, 2017 - Modified Jul 16, 2017
Lewil - in reply to LoboCNC

there is:
on slice 5 the externals and internal rings start up to build
then on slice 6, (so skipping 1 slice of 0.2 as slice 5) the moving ring starts

gravity makes his work, and the 6th slice of it falls on the 4th slice, and sticks it as if there was no gap. The result is that it is as solid as if there was no skip, ans it is solid enough to resist any attempt to release it. The external ring crushes as the base slices are torn.
i really need to make a small raft and bridges to make that connection "fragile" to achieve this.


Leaving a single layer gap is how rafts are normally done. You do get some adhesion between the 4th and 6th layers, but is should be weak enough that it can be broken free pretty easily. (There's not that much surface area on the bottom of the outer sphere.) If it is really firmly stuck, you may be over extruding or printing at too hot a temperature or printing too slowly.

Jul 16, 2017 - Modified Jul 16, 2017
Lewil - in reply to LoboCNC

ok, but i'll try to have a 2 layers gap instead of one as Emmet does at layers 35 and 36 on the original
(and maybe some rafting here and here :)

thank you for the solidworks model !!!! that'll make it easier :D

(you can see my speeds in the video up, and i'm 200° PLA)

This box is really cool, i absolutely love it. I decided to print a large one, i printed it at 140mm diameter (which is 220% of original size) and it has printed really nice and looks fantastic. But sadly it won't stay closed :-( the mechanism has printed and works perfectly, but im guessing due to the weight of the iris leaves is enough to pull down and untwist the box :-(

Here is a little video of it - https://www.dropbox.com/s/fzod8jhfyyy202y/20170715_195505.mp4?dl=0

Can you think of anything i can do to add some resistance to the twist mechanism to help prevent it from opening on its own? Many thanks, i still love the box it is so cool!

Nice print! You could always just jam a wad of folded up paper into the gap between the base ring and the outer sphere. Or if you wanted to drill holes in the tips of the leafs, you could stick in small, thin magnets that would hold it closed.

Note that emmett's original design has a little flat section in the leaf's internal slot that helps hold his open. My design was too small to incorporate that feature.

Thanks for your response :-) i have now fixed the box so it works perfectly. The problem i think was because i scaled the box up to make it much larger, this obviously made all the tolerance gaps larger as well making the rotating outside shell a slack fit with no friction to hold in place it could easily turn due to gravity pulling the leaves down.

To fix this i printed some tiny little clips that sit around the perimeter of the base putting friction between the base and rotating outside shell so it can't rotate without a deliberate twist :-) the clips are simply stuck in place with a tiny dab of superglue.

Here is a little video show the clips and how well they work compared to the same iris box in my link in the comment above. https://www.dropbox.com/s/zy4ymwdvfzu028u/20170716_013324.mp4?dl=0

Fantastic solution! Would you mind sharing the file for this please? I'm having a similar problem on mine :/

Certainly, i have just added the clip as a remix (although i know it's not really a remix). Which you can find here - https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:2439820

Also, what scale did you print your iris box at? I need a bigger printer, because i really want an even bigger iris box now!! haha!!

Base Clip needed for Print-in-place Iris Box when printing it large

Very tidy solution. You should publish it as a remix.

Hi, I have as you suggested added a remix with this clip (i know its not a remix, but it makes sense as it keeps the iris box link it's designed for with it then).

Cheers :-)

Jul 1, 2017 - Modified Jul 1, 2017

Printed nicely, but i have the problem, that the box opens itself by the slightest touch or even the table vibrating

Printed at 100%, 0,2mm layer.

Her is a short video of the box opening https://www.dropbox.com/s/csle8365t7uhpbx/VID_20170701_164536%5B1%5D.3gp?dl=0

Hiya, i had the same issue with you when i printed this iris box (mine was printed at 220% size) i designed these clips which completely fix the issue of the box opening by itself, and they print in only 5 minutes :-) Thought they could be useful for you.


Do bear in mind that these are designed for the iris box when printed at 220% size, so if your iris box size is a different scale, then these would need to be scaled accordingly.

Base Clip needed for Print-in-place Iris Box when printing it large
Jun 27, 2017 - Modified Jun 27, 2017

I cannot get this to print. When I go to print it loads the layers and then it starts to load the insets and gets to 148 out of 373 it freezes for a second then says ready to print and then I have to restart it.

So unfortunately i appear to be ones with problems printing this. I cut in Cura 2.5 with .2 layer height on an Anet A8 through Octoprint, but after running a screwdriver around the base and cutting the connections on the bottom it doesn't even budge a little. Am i supposed to cut "OUT" something or just disconnect the tab from the base?

I guess i'll try cutting with slic3r next. would .1 layer height make any difference? which way is it (the base) supposed to turn anyway?

I have the correct nozzle setting, adjusted the esteps, and i'm not sure what the extruder multiplier is? I don't see any movement of the bottom tabs at all while trying to twist.

It's not quite as simple as running a screwdriver around the base. You need to stick the screwdriver in as shown and pry upward slightly to free the outer sphere from the base ring. You need to do this as multiple points all the way around the base. If it is still stuck, then it might be that you are over-extruding or don't have your retraction setting properly tuned.

Yeah i ran the screwdriver around aggressively. I tried a little harder after your post and the bottom came off. Breaking at the tab points. I've been trying to see where it is hanging up and still can't turn it after running the screwdriver around each of the leaves. I must have a problem in the print of the leaves sections even though when i tore it apart i don't see anything there either. I'll increase the retraction, it is currently set at 4.5 mm.

May 12, 2017 - Modified May 12, 2017

It took quite some effort to make it move, but eventually I succeeded. I had to apply quite a bit of force while prying loose the base. The, by wiggling it, it became clear that one of the doors was stuck: the others were moving a little but one wasn't. Careful insertion of an exacto knife (careful!) between the doors and the inner and outer shell, and finally a thin screwdriver along the troublesome door rim solved the issue with a satisfying "snap" sound.

Printed in 0.15 mm layer height, the gaps are too wide and the iris flaps are sometimes falling off joints. Does the layer height affect this? I also used the "detect thin walls" setting in Slic3r, so this may be the thing to blame.

ARGH... frustrating to print for 6-1/2 hours and have them not work.

The print looks good from the base and the top, I can only suspect that somewhere in between one or more of the 'leaves' is welded to the inner wall; which makes it useless... :(

I can pass a .004 feeler gauge between the leaves and the outer wall.

Make sure you haven't forgotten to cut the tabs on the bottom and also have broken the outer sphere free from the base ring (see photo inserting screwdriver into gap). If you are poking around with a feeler gauge, you should be able to slide into the gaps except for where there are pivot pins and actuator pins (see transparent photo).

Yeah, first thing I did was the tabs on the base and prying with small screwdriver. I just 'dissected' it and I was correct; a couple of the leaves were 'welded' to the inner-shell in some spots. One was almost monolithic, which tells me that in order to get a successful print of this iris I would/will have to play with settings... possibly A LOT.

Granted even using a different slicer could make the difference. It's almost too daunting when something doesn't work because in troubleshooting mode there are so many variables that the combination could be endless.

first thing you can start with is making sure the filament diameter is correct in the slicer, then esteps, then the extrusion multiplier. Most problems with print-in-place objects start with the incorrect extrusion multiplier; if the parts are stuck together your ex multiplier might be to high. Your right though it can be daunting to figure out the exact variables to why your prints aren't coming out like they should but you can rule out a lot of them buy just observing your printer print. The parts are fusing together; you're extruding too much filament; what settings control the amount of filament being extruded?Filament diameter, esteps, and extrusion multiplier(there are some more but these are the main ones). That doesnt work what else can it be? Maybe there's big blobs at the end of my loop causing layers to fuse so i need to increase the retraction. My point being is depending on the situation you can rule out 85% those variables leaving you with 15% of guess work.

Hmmm... tried this twice now on my MP Select Mini, and both times it stuck. I'm going to try a different slicer, as I've heard that Cura has some issues with this print, but has anyone successfully printed this with a mini?

I use a MP Select Mini, and mine worked just fine after popping a sticky flap. I'm using Simplify3d to slice.

Yeah, fifth try, no dice. I can print a 20mm cube to within .1mm, but can't get this to print right. I usually have no stringing or anything, but regardless of settings, sclier or filament, I can't get this to work at 100% scale.

What quality profile / layer height did you use? Would you share your factory file? I used Simplify3d with my MP Select Mini as well and the result was awkward :(

Hell thewill.
I used medium quality (2 mm) Here is the link to download my sliced file. Hopefully you wont have to pop the stuck flap. https://www.dropbox.com/s/lkumkpl117rwiiy/MP%20Select%20Mini%20Iris%20Box.gcode?dl=0

Let me know how it turns out!

Hey Travistx,

thanks for the file! It looked good, except for the bottom (it really should look like this, should it?). I cut the taps and broke the outer sphere, separated the inner one from the leaves, but I still can't rotate the thing. It just stucks. I tried to poke around with a scalpel between the leaves, but could get it to work :(

Picture of top and bottom: http://imgur.com/0r51YrY

Printed great. Prusa i3 Mk2. Prusa PLA. .2 res, standard Slic3r settings. Printed @ 120% after reading some of the comments. Will probably print again at normal scale because it is little loose. Mechanics work great. Broke free with a little exacto help. Free up the tabs (16) underneath. Run the exacto down all the interior gaps then between the rotating ring and the base. Easy peasy.

Thanks LoboCNC for the great thing.

This is my favorite print, thanks so much for designing it, I've make 6 so far and EVERYOne loves them.

This is awesome, mine came out great first shot. The only thing is that it keeps "catching" when I close the 'doors'. Any suggestions to loosen it up so it rotates more freely?

Rotating the outer sphere back & forth a bunch of times with a little downward pressure will help grind away the little burrs inside.

I assume one turns the top clockwise to close? I can't get it freed despite following the directions.

Correct - the outer sphere turns clockwise to close. If after you've cut the tabs on the bottom the whole unit seems rock solid, that means that the outer sphere has not been broken free from the base ring. This is where you stick a flat-blade screwdriver into the gap between them and pry gently upwards. If there is some movement of the outer sphere, but it still won't close, then the leafs are stuck. You may be able to shove a thin shim into the gaps to try and free them. Studying the semi-transparent CAD image will help you see what is going on.

Printed at 160% with Makerbot Replicator 5th gen. with Tough PLA filament.
There was no binding at all. If anything, was too loose as the lids aren't completely lined up when closed.
Just had to cut the tabs on the bottom and was all good.
Probably 140 or 150% would have been better, but this works.

Jan 30, 2017 - Modified Feb 1, 2017

Printed at 155% scale with xyzprinting DaVinci 1.0 and ABS filament and came out great. Printed as solid with no supports.

Earlier attempts at 100 and 110% failed. Almost worked, but the lids were too fragile and cracked while setting free.

Think I decided that the trick is to read the instructions and cut the little tabs on the bottom with a knife. Then, while trying to turn, look at the bottom of the 4 lid pieces and see which wiggle and which don't. Free the ones that don't wiggle...

Also, the other trick is to print at a larger scale...

Used a file folder plastic tab thing to slide down in and free up some binding...

Comments deleted.

Prints great! This is honestly one of the most amazing things that I've ever printed. Kudos to the designer!

That'd be emmett:)

Yeah, I'll still give you credit for improving the design :) Currently printing at 150% scale, and it seems reliable and easy to 'cut and pop'. Maybe this year's Christmas gift of choice?

Print looks great, seems like it really wants to move, but I can't get any actual rotation... cut the bottom pieces, ran a knife around the outter edge.. how deep do I need to run it to loosen the outter sphere? It printed well, can't really see any snags anywhere... Anyone have any secret advice that hasn't already been posted? :D

You free the outer sphere not by running a knife around the groove, but by sticking a small screwdriver blade in the gap and then prying inward gently. Do this around the whole perimeter. Check out the video posted by NeatherBot: https://youtu.be/L5bD2DMX8BE -- it shows really nicely how to get it freed up.

Yeha I did that with a knife. I found my problem after ripping it apart haha but some of the 'hinges' fuzed to the inner sphere so the leaves weren't truly free... amongst other things... gonna have another go at it tonight methinks.. gonna slow the print down a little bit too, and maybe poke my retract settings a tiny bit more.

Thanks for the cool design :D

Wooofff. Thanks to all of the incredible work by all in the design chain. Prints very well on Rostock V2 max with dual E3d extruders using BondTek filament drivers. Printing on BuildTak. Viki 2 running an Azteeg V3 pro board. Matter Control slicer. 0.4 mm nozzle.

205 degree C Polymax PLA. 5 mm retraction on move and tool change. Retract speed 45 mm/sec. Z lift 0.5mm. Extra length on restart 0.1 mm. Minimum move requiring retraction 1 mm. Minimum extrusion requiring retraction 0.5 mm. No Layer cooling. Layer height 0.2 mm. First layer height 0.3 mm. 3 perimeters. 3 top and bottom layers. 30% infill, triangles. Infill overlap 0.1 mm.
Cleanup tip. After cutting off the leaf tabs the leaves can be freed up if they are sticking by running the thin end of a 6 inch nylon tie between the leaves and the inner and outer shells.

Plug. Polmax PLA is by far the best PLA I have ever used. It is not only strong but is also tough and self lubricating to a tremendous degree.

Would you recommend printing this in PLA only or do you think that an ABS Print is doable? Has anyone made a working ABS Print?

I just made one out of ABS on a printrbot simple metal with heated bed at 1.6:1 scale. Worked Great

ABS should work OK if your printer is well calibrated.

Oct 28, 2016 - Modified Nov 2, 2016

A great and absolutely stunning model as this can not be built using "conventional" manufacturing techniques. Thank you!
Sliced with Skeinforce (50) it took about 5h to print and worked perfectly.
Unfortunately I was unable to produce another good print of the model using other slicers. I was trying MakerBot Dekstop v.3.10, Slic3r v1.2.9 and CarftWare v1.14beta with the same settings as far as possible. All G-Codes generated by the other slicers would either fuse the fins together with the inner shell at the edges or at the hinges. The problem seems to be different combinations of oozing, amount of extrusion for infills, traversing points and build-order of the individual layers by the different algorithms.

I would appreciate if some of you, who have successfully printed this thing, could share which slicer software you use.

Try KISSlicer :)
I printed mine in ABS on my Prusa i3 and it came out great.

Attempt one after work didn't work out in my favor... It literally exploded after I tried to unjam it for about an hour. On the plus side, I got to see the beautiful-in-it's-simplicity internal function and figure out why it jammed (The narrow trailing edge of one leaf (ONE) fused to the inner wall. I suspect I was running my PLA too warm. Still dialing this specific filament in in terms of temp...). Just curious; would you personally consider this compatible with a 0.5mm nozzle, or should I put my 0.4mm on just to be safe?

It's going to be easier with a 0.4mm nozzle. Everything will be a little sharper, and it shlould also ooze a little less. Good luck on your next try!

Decided to give it one last shot with the 0.5. Dialed in my temp and retraction settings and it came out lovely (After a 2 hour, 24 minute and 17 second print). Part of the base (Where the leaf supports were) did break off, but the function is clean in SeeMeCNC's translucent blue PLA. Which gives the added benefit of showing the internals if you hold it up to a light.

Awesome, I'll "Made it" later, thank you for this..

I wonder how well this scales. I printed two at 100% and they're perfect.

I would think this could be scaled up to 150% with no trouble. Beyond that, there are some overhangs on the internal pins that might start getting droopy. You might be able to scale it down to maybe 80%, but the clearances will get pretty tight and the walls will get a little thin for standard 0.4mm nozzles.

Printed this last night, cool design, did not work for me because most of the moving parts fused together. This is a good print to see how well calibrated your machine is. I will be re-calibrating my machine tonight. :)

I've cut the tabs at the bottom, but I cannot get this thing to open!

In addition to cutting the tabs, you also have to free up the outer sphere which rotates relative to the base. The easiest way do do this is to stick a very small flat bladed screw driver into the gap between the outer sphere and the studded base ring and pry back gently, working your way around the ring. You should hear the parts breaking loose as you work your way around. I'll post a photo of this shortly.

Yea, I ran my X-acto knife in that groove all the way around several times. I never really heard anything breaking loose. It won't even budge when trying to turn it. I just don't know. I did print at .15, with a .04 nozzle. Perhaps that made a difference. I printed on an Ultimaker 2+ which I get very precise prints. Oh well.

Running a knife in the groove won't free the sphere because the blade is at the wrong angle. You need to use a small flat bladed screwdriver and pry the outer edge of the sphere inward towards the center. Then you should hear it crack loose. I've uploaded a cross section photo so you can see what's going on better.

Brilliant! Perfect print on my first attempt.
I loaded the SLDPRT file into Onshape and created an animated assembly.

So i scaled mine up and now i'm having a problem breaking the leaves apart. Any suggestions? The studded ring is supposed to be turning CCW to close the iris yes?

Yes, to close, the studded ring goes CCW, although the way I think of it is the outer sphere turns CW:)

problem resolved, i broke the tabs on the bottom manually.

I just printed this and it worked fairly well... except for one thing. When I was breaking it apart, I managed to break the bottom ring (the one with the half sphere studs) apart from the center in three of the four connection points. I superglued it back together and it functions just fine. With a little graphite or some sort of lubrication, I think it would work pretty smoothly.

So, there probably need to be some reinforcement of the area where the bottom ring attaches to the center. I printed it with 3 bottom/top layers and 2 shells.

Good suggestion. I'll see about beefing up the bottom.

Seemed to print fine. It closed once with 3 of the 4 leaves. Then all four just fell out.

Oct 10, 2016 - Modified Oct 11, 2016
LoboCNC - in reply to TobyCWood

I've fixed the problem by adding some internal spacers to the outer sphere that keep it from shifting around when the box is closed. I haven't seen any more jamming in my test print.

Yeah, I noticed with mine that if it jams at all, the leafs can become dislodged. I'm going to add a little feature to make the outer sphere more stable which should help. Stay tuned.

Cool...! Trying it right now on another machine while my 3rd attempt with Emmetts is on another.

Comments deleted.